Freeholders host ribbon cutting to mark opening of homeless shelter

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The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the county’s adult homeless shelter on Nov. 7 at Fort Monmouth, Oceanport.

“We have an obligation to help our county residents who may not be able to help themselves due to a number of circumstances,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “Cutting the ribbon on this exceptional facility symbolizes the opening of a safe haven that will help this vulnerable population overcome their respective obstacles.”

The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) funded the construction of the 4,500-square-foot shelter, which will offer temporary housing, counseling and other services to adults until further resources are identified, according to a press release from the county.

The services are funded by Monmouth County and administered by the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA).

“The former emergency homeless shelter was lost during Superstorm Sandy, which forced its occupants to relocate to other facilities,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, who is a FMERA board member. “Both the county and FMERA understood the need to replace the ruined shelter and, through a collaborative partnership, we were able to achieve the goal of once again providing lodging and services to the homeless.”

The new facility is able to house up to 16 residents for 30 days each. Housing includes a 12-bed dorm for men, a four-bed dorm for women, separate restrooms and showers for men and women, a laundry room, a clothing sorting and storage room, a counseling office and a security desk, according to the press release.

The central resident common area of the shelter has a kitchen and pantry, a 16-person dining area, a computer nook and a seating area with a television.

“Homelessness is a life-altering circumstance that can be attributed to a number of factors, such as a lack of affordable housing and an absence of services to help with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues,” Freeholder Susan M. Kiley said. “Through the new shelter, the county and AHA will be able to deliver temporary relief and quality support to this extremely vulnerable population.”

For more information about housing services in Monmouth County, visit www.visitmonmouth.com