New transitional house for women in Saint John gets $3.6M in funding

Click to play video: 'Coverdale Centre for Women in Saint John receiving $3.6M in funding'
Coverdale Centre for Women in Saint John receiving $3.6M in funding
WATCH: A transitional housing project for women in Saint John received a cash infusion. Both the federal and provincial governments invested a total of $3.6 million for the new 12-unit building. Advocates say it will provide much-needed temporary housing to women in need. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Aug 22, 2022

The Coverdale Centre for Women is one step closer to completing its new transitional housing building in Saint John’s Waterloo Village.

It’s called Rose House.

The 12-unit building is being built by Iron Maple and was given $3.6 million in funding, which was announced on Monday.

For Mary Saulnier-Taylor, the need for affordable and accessible housing has never been greater. In fact, she said the organization began to notice an increase in the number of clients the homeless shelter was seeing a few months before the pandemic was in full swing.

“We were starting to see like two or three extra, which we were able to accommodate, and then when COVID hit, obviously, it changed everything,” she said at the announcement on Monday.

“We saw a greater increase in domestic violence occurring, we did see greater increases in rent evictions due to rent increases, and the other predominant is substance issues and mental health.”

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According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, 1.5 million women live in poverty.

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The Women’s Housing and Homelessness Network reported 36 per cent of those experiencing homelessness are women-identified.

Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard announced the provincial commitment of supplements for the 12 units for 20 years, totalling $1.4 million.

“With the construction of Rose House, Coverdale will be able to continue to support women experiencing homelessness for many years to come,” she said at the announcement.

The federal government contributed another $1.4 million from the Rapid Housing Initiative. Another $400,000 in funding was provided by the Regional Development Corporation.

Outside of helping this particular housing initiative, when asked whether there should be consideration given to extending the province’s rent cap amid the ongoing housing crisis, Shephard wouldn’t commit to anything.

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“We know there’s a housing crisis, we know there’s an immediate need, and we know it may go beyond the scope of the plans we have engaged,” she said.

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The project was scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1, according to Saulnier-Taylor, but there have been some delays. She said she expects it’ll be closer to the beginning of December before the units are complete.

She said in the past, women were staying at the shelter for about three to five months, these days those stays can be 18 months or longer.

Saulnier-Taylor said deciding who gets the units will be a multi-factor approach.

“We’re trying to set everyone up for immediate success with the support they need so that they can feel they have a safe place,” she said.

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