As an annual county by county survey gets underway today to try and determine the exact number of homeless in New Jersey, advocates continue seeking permanent shelters, especially during the harsh winter months.
Members of Haven Beat the Street, a faith-based nonprofit in Atlantic County discussed the issue last week with Tom Mongelli, host of “Townsquare Tonight” on News Talk 1160 & 1310 WOBM-AM.
The nonprofit doesn’t have a permanent shelter, but works with church facilities to temporarily provide overnight accommodations for the homeless.
Paul Hulse, Director of Outreach for Haven Beat the Street, explained a state law allows the nonprofit to set up “Hospitality Centers” to provide temporary shelter.
“Hopefully someone that’s listening out there, there’s a church facility that wants to do something, and we have something in place that we can work with them to do it,” said Hulse.
The group currently uses a 12-apartment complex in Atlantic City, but was forced to close a warming center in Barnegat Township that had capacity for 14 people, according to Bill Southrey, President of Haven Beat the Streets.
“We were asked not to continue by the people in the area, and it was disaffecting some businesses. They were concerned about it, so we bowed out for the moment and we’re looking for another site to set up again,” said Southrey.
Hulse added that out of respect for the Pastor that let the nonprofit use the facility for the last few years, they felt it was best to respect his wishes.
Hulse said anyone who is interested in opening up that type of facility can contact Haven Beat The Streets by calling, 386-315-0168 or visiting the website at www.havenstreets.org to learn more about the organization and the work it does.
The nonprofit also shared that it just purchased its first Tiny Home, called Havens Homes, according to Hulse.
Frank Bauer, a former salesman from Ocean County, who was living in a motel about a year ago, is now working as a roofer and was able to get back on his feet with help from Haven Beat The Streets.
“They gave me a reason to want to look at myself different,” said Bauer, who recalled being on his knees in the rain of the motel parking lot when he hit rock bottom.
Hulse said the nonprofit helped Bauer with his rent and phone bills and established a bond with him.
“The best way to help someone is to build a relationship with them,” added Hulse.
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