New County Emergency Homeless Shelter Advances

December 15, 2017
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Architectural drawing showing the shelter. Courier Avenue is at the bottom of the drawing, and Murphy Drive along the right side.

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski

OCEANPORT – The new Monmouth County adult emergency homeless shelter to be built on borough property on the former Fort Monmouth should be ready for occupancy by the end of next summer, according to county administrator Teri O’Connor.

The single-story facility will consist of two new, prefabricated modular structures connected by a “bridge” portion at the corner of Courier Avenue and Murphy Drive.

The 3.1-acre site, conveyed to the county by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) in March, previously contained one hut-style structure that is being demolished. Engineering work was recently performed to relocate utilities and improve ingress and egress, and site work has begun, O’Connor said on Nov. 30. Spiezle Architectural Group of Hamilton prepared the plans. The county is expected to advertise for bids this week. County officials anticipate awarding the construction contract in February.

“The facility will have one side for men and the other for women, with a common area in between with a kitchen, laundry, a dining area and a common room,” O’Connor said, adding that only adults and no children will be allowed to reside there on a temporary basis. The shelter will also have space for security, counseling, clothing, a computer nook and staff. The cost is projected at $1.7 million. FMERA officials have stated at past public meetings members “fully support the project.”

The previous county emergency homeless shelter was destroyed in Super Storm Sandy. Since then, adults needing temporary shelter have been placed at the John L. Montgomery Care Center in Freehold, a former county facility that was sold to a private concern about a year ago. The county houses a fluctuating number of about 18 up to 30 homeless adults who are required to work or look for work and permanent housing during daylight hours. Occupants are allowed to remain at the emergency shelter for a maximum of 30 days.

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“There are strict criteria participants must follow,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian Burry, the county’s FMERA representative. “It’s an interim place to be sheltered until they can transition into new circumstances. This is something we’ve done for years for those who are in a temporary state of homelessness.” By statute and agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the county’s homeless shelter must be located in Oceanport. To identify a suitable permanent site on the former fort, Burry, O’Connor, and county Public Works and Engineering officials worked with FMERA staff. The site was accepted by Oceanport officials, Burry said.

The new site is located across Stephenson Avenue from the former county homeless shelter and already has a paved parking area. Last month, Family Promise of Monmouth County, an affiliate of National Family Promise, opened a 2,832-square-foot, one-story facility to provide support services for homeless persons on 1.7 acres along Malterer Avenue, also in Oceanport. Located across from the FMERA offices along Route 537 (Avenue of Memories), that facility provides case management, links to outside service providers and programs including education by working with community agencies, faith-based services and religious entities to provide shelter, food, transportation and supportive services for homeless families. Also part of the redevelopment agreement with HUD, that site was transferred to Family Promise for $1.


This article was first published in the Dec. 7-14, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

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