Rita Zimmer is the Founder and Executive Director of HousingPlus, and President of the Women’s Community Justice Association. Rita has been in recovery for over 40 years, and has a Master’s in Public Health from New York University.
Rita has a long history of working to create opportunities for women in New York City.
In 1983 she founded Women In Need, (WIN) as one of the first nonprofits to create supportive transitional and permanent housing for women and families experiencing homelessness. She served as its chief executive until 2000. Following her tenure at WIN, Rita began volunteering at Taconic and Beacon Correctional Facilities where she heard many stories of homelessness and trauma from the women she met while helping them prepare for returning home. This experience and the impact of their testimonials led to her founding HousingPlus in 2002 to create transitional and permanent housing to help women with criminal justice experiences.
Building on the experience of providing housing, in 2016, Rita and the executives of Hour Children, Providence House, Greenhope Services for Women and the Women’s Prison Association established the Women’s Community Justice Project. The goal is to reduce the number of women detained at the women’s center and better serve them in the community by creating a transitional housing program while women resolve their court cases. Funded by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in 2017, the project thus far successfully moved 140 women off Rikers Island.
Continuing in her typical systems-level thinking, Rita and her partners have issued a clarion call to expedite the closure of the Rose M. Singer Center for Women on Rikers Island to 2020. To this end, they have created a new non-profit, Women’s Community Justice Association which houses The Beyond Rosie’s Campaign to ensure there is a financial and programmatic commitment to the decarceration of women and restorative justice.
Annie Murphy | Deputy Executive Director
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Joyce M. Kelly | Vice President of Tenant Services
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Betty Chin | Director of Finance & Administration
Melissa Sosa-Longo | Interim Development and Communications Director