COVERDALE COURTWORK SOCIETY’S ‘CAITLANS PLACE’ WILL PROVIDE TRANSITIONAL AND SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOR WOMEN AND GENDER DIVERSE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Coverdale Courtwork Society has launched a one-year pilot project that will seek to address the needs of women and gender diverse individuals involved in the criminal justice system. Caitlan’s Place is a 6-bed transitional and restorative home located in Halifax that serves to prevent individuals from being remanded into custody or from being released from incarceration into homelessness.
This new supportive housing program allows us to build on what we are already doing as an agency to support individuals navigating the criminal justice system, while strengthening the overall ecosystem of supportive housing services located in the Halifax Regional Municipality for women, trans, non-binary and Two-Spirit individuals.
The home will be staffed 24/7 with each resident having access to a suite of gender transformative and trauma informed services that are responsive to individual needs and address the various pathways to criminalization. These services include court support and legal network navigation, cultural programming, housing support, and evidence based personal development programs. Residents can reside at Caitlan’s Place for up to one year and will be supported to attend all court related appointments, engage in their individualized support plan and follow any court ordered conditions.
Overall, the program’s aim is to create positive, supportive and sustainable reintegration through connections to housing, mentorship, employment, and social and health services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated and complicated both the remand (pre-trial custody) and homelessness crisis in this region, widening the gaps that predated the pandemic. Since March 2020, Coverdale has been working collaboratively with community partners to respond to the needs of this particularly marginalized population of women and gender diverse folks who remain underserved by state systems and are vulnerable to overdose, mental health crisis, violence, victimization, homelessness and other preventable tragedies.
By creating this service, more individuals will be able to achieve stability and belonging in the community and we will be able to decrease recidivism and homelessness for the long-term success of each individual.
Caitlan’s Place is named in honour of Caitlan Greenwell, a bright Indigenous woman who died in crisis at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In naming the home after Caitlan, we recognize and honour her, as well as the countless women who have died due to the structural inequalities in our society. Inequalities that disproportionately impact women, and in particular, Black and Indigenous women. These disparities, which have been aggravated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, require transformative responses that address the social determinants of health and justice and ultimately foster healing, equity, and personal and public health.
Caitlan’s Place will operate from February 22, 2021 to March 31, 2022 and is funded by the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia through Reaching Home, Canada's Homelessness Strategy
With the launch of this pilot project, we are also launching a fundraising campaign as we strive to make this development a permanent service for women and gender diverse people in this region.
Please visit www.coverdale.ca and click ‘donate’, select Caitlan’s Place and your donation will go directly to this initiative.
Donations can also be mailed to Coverdale Courtwork Society at 6169 Quinpool Rd. Suite 221B B3L 4P8, Halifax N.S.
“People experiencing homelessness are more likely to interact with the criminal justice system, and people currently or previously involved in the criminal justice system are more likely to experience homelessness. As a community, it is critical that we understand the connection between homelessness and the criminal justice system, and that we work collaboratively to better address homelessness, reduce the use of jails, build stronger communities and ensure everyone has access to safe and stable housing. Collaboratively designed and evidence-based approaches to these issues are critical, and we extend immense gratitude to our colleagues at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia for lending their expertise and support in the development of this crucial project” – Ash Avery, Executive Director
As a direct result of the covid-19 pandemic, we as a community have witnessed the need for more reintegration supports for individuals exiting incarceration. I began working with the JEC project (John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, Coverdale Courtwork Society) at the beginning of the pandemic, wherein we were able to provide that wrap around support. When that project had to wrap up, it was clear that there was still a gap in terms of community support for the criminalized individuals accessing services. That is why my role transitioned into doing bail support and outreach; to try and ensure that these folks did not fall through the cracks. When we found out we had the funding to open Caitlan’s Place, I was ecstatic to be part of an initiative that is working to fill the gaps, provide that safe and supportive landing space, and meet the clients where they are at upon release” – Martha Kerr, House Manager