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Women in the Criminal Justice System

HousingPlus has a long history of serving women who have been involved with the criminal justice system and have been homeless, dating back to our first programs. Approximately 50% of the women in our housing programs have criminal justice involvement either directly or indirectly through a family member.

Drew House opened in 2010 for the purpose of providing a family alternative opportunity for women who as first time felony offenders face substantial prison time. Women live with their children at Drew House while completing a mandated service program for up to two years. Their felony charges are dismissed when they satisfy the court mandates.

In 2016, our executive director Rita Zimmer brought together five agency leaders serving women to form the Women’s Community Justice Project and launch a pilot Alternative to Detention Program for twenty women—a ground-breaking effort to demonstrate that it is possible to end the unnecessarily detention of women who are homeless and unable to make bail. Women move into a members housing program and receive services they need while meeting their court obligations. To date, the pilot is successful and we are currently working with city-wide government officials to expand the program in 2017 to serve up to 200 women annually. The Women’s Community Justice Project (WCJP) members include: HousingPlus, Greenhope Services for Women, Hour Children, Providence House, and Women’s Prison Association.