For one Flagstaff woman, an unstable living condition led to homelessness, drug addiction and a life of crime. After exiting jail, she was determined to live differently; she heard about the Juniper House, a re-entry home for women in Flagstaff which was created in 2016 by Catholic Charities.
By the numbers
Residents were served by Juniper House in 2018
Total number of residents who can stay in Juniper House at a time
Percentage of women entering the program that Catholic Charities expects to gain income within the first 60 days of entry; 50 percent are expected to obtain it within 30 days
Average number of months women stay in Juniper House
Average cost of an inmate in Arizona per day
Percentage of women living in Juniper House working to reunite with their children
Total number of residents who have been served by Juniper House since it opened in 2016
“Having safe, sober housing has relieved so much stress in my life that I have been able to stay sober, complete probation and focus on a future of going back to school and getting a degree,” the former Juniper House resident shared in a testimony with Catholic Charities. “Housing is the difference between life and death.”
Sandi Flores, Catholic Charities Community Services’ senior programs director for the northern offices, explained that the goal of the Juniper House is to provide opportunities for women so they don’t go back to the situation that they were in prior to going to jail.
“We offer a place to keep their hope going,” Flores said. “We treat everyone that we encounter with the dignity that they deserve. It’s the idea of the Good Samaritan. That’s the story that every employee at Catholic Charities knows inside and out. We see ourselves as the Samaritan picking up the lost and broken and helping them get to a safe place.”
Since the program’s start, it has positively impacted the Flagstaff community. According to Camie Rasband, the housing supervisor for Catholic Charities, the average inmate in Arizona costs taxpayers $69.58 a day. Because the Juniper House served 25 clients in 2018, that’s a total savings of $264,847 for the Flagstaff Jail. The occupants are also being integrated in the community through employment. Of the 25 women who resided at the Juniper House in 2018, only three didn’t have stable income.
Unlike other re-entry housing facilities, the Juniper House allows residents to become reintegrated into the community on their own timetable by setting their own goals. Some stay up to a year while others stay as little as two or three months. Also different from other re-entry housing programs, women are not “exited” if they relapse. Catholic Charities wants to provide support so that these women are able to make the next right decision, housing supervisor Camie Rasband.
Developed by Catholic Charities, creates a sober home environment for up to eight women exiting the Flagstaff jail. Similar properties exist for men.
Bre Williams, the housing team lead at Catholic Charities, graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2017 and has been working to connect resources for Catholic Charities’ clients since then. Williams explained that the waitlist for the Juniper House is growing and the community is realizing that this program is needed.
“There will always be a need for sober housing in our community, especially for people that have been experiencing homelessness,” said Williams. “That population will always need a little extra stability and safety.”
Another former resident echoed this idea and explained how it was instrumental in her life.
“If it wasn’t for this housing assistance, I would not have anywhere to go. I would be homeless all over again. This assistance has helped me in more ways than just having a roof over my head. It has reestablished my self-esteem in the community,” the former resident shared in her testimony.
Because of the house’s success, Catholic Charities has created similar programs for men exiting jail. Ponderosa serves four men, and another re-entry home for men will soon open to provide housing for seven more.
The Diocese of Phoenix is looking to replicate the service across Arizona. Thanks to the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign, $1 million will be given to Catholic Charities to replicate the house in two, possibly three, areas throughout the diocese.
Cande de Leon, executive director of the diocese’s Office of Mission Advancement, which oversees the campaign, encourages everyone to give to the Juniper House.
“It’s important that we help our brothers and sisters in Christ when they have paid their dues in society and have gone to jail. We have to help them along their journey,” said de Leon. “We can choose to love; we can choose to sacrifice.”