Family Promise Moves Homeless Day Facility To Fort

October 16, 2017
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Family Promise of County is readying a former U.S. Army office building as the new headquarters of its operations. On Sept. 23, volunteers spruced up the grounds.

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski |

FORT MONMOUTH – A purchase and sale agreement is expected to be finalized this week transferring Building 501 in the Oceanport section of Fort Monmouth to Family Promise of Monmouth County for $1.

The 2,832-square-foot, one-story building on 1.7 acres along Malterer Avenue is being renovated to provide support services for the homeless. Case management, links to outside service providers and support programs, including education, will be offered there.

Family Promise of Monmouth County, an affiliate of National Family Promise, works with community agencies, faith-based services, and religious entities to provide shelter, food, transportation, and supportive services for homeless families. The network is comprised of host congregations which pledge use of its facilities, volunteer members and support congregations which provide additional volunteers and support.

Valued at approximately $500,000, the facility will serve as a new long-term Day Center as the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) has granted a Family Promise a 99-year land/building lease. The cost to maintain the building is lower than Family Promise’s current rental costs in Aberdeen, and the building is large enough to accommodate growth and expanded services, the organization reports.

The building will not be a homeless shelter, FMERA officials said. The agency’s residential component will be conducted at other sites.

“We are eager to move to the former Fort Monmouth to provide more services to help families regain their independence,” said Elaine Young, Family Promise board president. “We are the only emergency shelter for families in Monmouth County, so we provide a much needed service.” The Monmouth County government maintains a temporary emergency homeless shelter at the fort, but it is only for adults.

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Building 501 was used for counseling and similar purposes by the Army, according to FMERA executive director Bruce Steadman. It is located across the street from the current FMERA office building.

Family Promise will be responsible for costs and expenses associated with the operation and maintenance of the facility, and has up to three months to begin delivery of services. The organization mounted a fund-raising campaign to pay for renovations and improvements including work on the kitchen, bathrooms, and conference room; making the building ADA compliant; connecting to the water main; moving office equipment from the Aberdeen location; and maintenance/repair of the HVAC system and roof. Expanded program offerings and a reserve fund for future maintenance must also be funded. Over $94,000 of the agency’s goal of $125,000 was raised as of Oct. 9.

A weekend of repair work occurred in late September, with employees and volunteers from Lowe’s, New Jersey Natural Gas, Habitat for Humanity, the Hope for Children Foundation and the Brophy Family Charitable Foundation taking part. Drywall repair, painting, new flooring and exterior landscaping were accomplished in a party atmosphere with food and music.

In 2008, the original agency tasked with planning the fort’s future after it was closed by the U.S. Army was legally required to submit a Homeless Assistance Submission to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under that edict, another area agency – HABcore, Inc. – is also seeking a potential location on Fort Monmouth. HABcore provides permanent and supportive housing for homeless veterans, families and individuals with special needs. Recognized by the county, state, and federal government, HABcore is an outgrowth of Red Bank’s Lunch Break charitable nonprofit organization. Created in 1988, it is named after the initials of three homeless men who died on the borough’s streets. HABcore currently runs two boarding homes serving about 260 residents, who are encouraged to work, volunteer, or attend programs to address their needs.

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A meeting between HABcore officials and FMERA staff is scheduled for next week.

“It is a federal mandate that when a base closes, a certain amount must be set aside for homeless persons,” said HABcore executive director Steve Heisman. “We were part of the original HUD application. We’re seeking permanent housing for about 20 people, but we’re not clear on what form that is going to take. One property we were looking at is no longer feasible. We’re hopeful for more information at the meeting.”

On its website, HABcore states there are about 332 homeless households in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, including some 179 children under 18.

This article was first published in the Oct. 12-19, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.



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