The Coverdale Centre for Women is a key housing provider in the Saint John community. For over 14 years, Coverdale has provided support to women who experience high levels of trauma and long-term homelessness. They currently operate a drop-in site, a half-way house, and an emergency shelter.
Coverdale has secured $2 million to build a new 12-unit transitional housing facility for women and gender diverse people in Saint John. Each unit will be fully furnished with everything a client needs to start out on their own – furniture, washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, etc. While the planned housing uses a transitional model, there is no time limit on how long an individual client can stay. Typically, clients are required to leave transitional housing after two years, even if they are not ready. Providing clients the time they need to rebuild after severe trauma may give them a stronger start once they enter permanent housing.
This project has involvement from multiple levels of government and land has been secured and the plan was to break ground on April 1, 2022.
Coverdale has secured $2,000,000 in grant money, donations and its own savings for this project. Sadly, however, with the rising of construction materials and labour prices in the past year, the project is in jeopardy, encountering unanticipated costs in the amount of $400,000.
Without this money by March 18, 2022, the project may have to be terminated. The housing crisis in this province disproportionately impacts women and gender minorities. As rents continue to soar with no relief in sight and the waitlist for social housing balloons, the Coverdale project is urgently needed. This project must be saved.
Construction costs spike and its having an impact on community housing providers like Coverdale
Indeed, construction costs in New Brunswick are at historical highs with contractors and home builders feeling the effects. Recent data from Statistic Canada shows that construction costs for residential buildings in Canadian cities rose by 18.1 per cent from 2020 to 2021. This rise in construction costs during the pandemic can be explained by an unprecedented shortage of materials (e.g., drywall, PVC piping, electrical materials and lumber). In addition to the effects of constrained supply chains, labour shortages, and increasing demand for home building and renovation projects across North America has created the perfect inflationary storm, causing turmoil for new housing projects. The cost of lumber alone is up 300 per cent over pre-COVID-19 pricing.
This increase in construction prices has an even greater impact on community housing providers such as the Coverdale Centre for Women, who, as a condition of their funding for the Transitional Housing project, cannot take on debt for construction.
A call for funds
As community housing advocates deeply concerned about the gendered nature of the housing crisis, we are asking for support to raise the necessary $400,000 and save the Transitional Housing project. We recognize that inflation is impacting everyone and that New Brunswickers are struggling; however, if you have a little extra please consider donating. Donations are all tax deductible and we have a gofundme link available that will provide you with an immediate tax receipt: https://gofund.me/a244c38e
Chloé Reiser is a postdoctoral fellow with the Community Housing Canada Research Partnership. Julia Woodhall-Melnik is the Canada Research Chair in Resilient Community and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Science at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. Tobin LeBlanc Haley is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. All three are community-based researchers and affordable housing advocates.