The Yukon government is announcing a new supervised housing unit aimed to offer a place to live to women involved in the justice system. They are calling it the first of its kind in the North.
A room in the facility and the accompanying support programming can be made available to women in a variety of stages of involvement with the justice system. Among those women considered for a space will be those on bail, serving conditional sentences and in the process of reintegrating with the community. According to the government, the program’s goal is to ensure the successful transition of women in the justice system back into the community.
The housing unit, set to take its first residents as early as March, is located in the Takhini Haven building on the property of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The supervised housing program will be operated by Connective, the organization that already operates the Supervised Housing and Reintegration Support Program (SHARP), which is aimed at men in the justice system and shares similarities with the new women’s program, but operates out of a separate area of the correctional centre. Connective also operates the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter and another supported housing unit in downtown Whitehorse.
The government’s agreement with Connective for the management of the program between Jan. 30 of this year and March 31, 2024 is worth a total of $1.17 million.
Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee was on-hand for an opening and media tour of the housing unit, which has recently undergone some refitting and redecorating to make it better suited to the Connective program’s needs. McPhee said that over a 30-year career in the Yukon justice system she often encountered individuals who would have benefited from a place like the new housing unit.
“The program that will operate here puts people first and works to support women with the goal of reducing reoffending,” McPhee said.
“Thank you to Connective for your continued work in providing these services and the invaluable programming for justice-involved people overall.”
Gigi McKee, Connective’s assistant regional director for the Yukon, who had previously been involved with SHARP, also offered some explanation about the niche the new women’s program will fill. McKee said the housing unit, outfitted with private rooms, a kitchen and living space sufficient for six women will provide a supervised home-life environment that aims to offer safety and support.
McKee noted that the Council of Yukon First Nations is a partner on the project and provided guidance around the provision of culturally appropriate supports to those who will use it.
“Here our staff can assist residents to navigate obstacles in their path to community reintegration while providing targeted programming, support, advocacy and information on community resources as they work to achieve their self-identified goals,” McKee said.
It is hoped that the program’s first resident will be able to move in by the end of March. McKee said Connective has hired a program manager for the women’s facility and is constantly recruiting staff for it and the organization’s other programs. The unit will be staffed 24/7.
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