by Terry Rogers
TAP FAITH Partnerships, a non-denominational, non-profit organization working with homeless, re-entry individuals, recovering addicts and those in need has launched their “Community Project” The goal of the project is to create emergency, transitional housing, outreach and ministerial services for those who are in need.
“The project has undergone a metamorphosis since it was initially envisioned,” Jim Martin, trustee of the partnership, said. “We realized that the reference to “homes” involves property rights, ownership and code compliance, all of which do not characterize our mission or vision. We began this project because there is a clear and present population of people who are homeless, have opioid and other addictive behaviors and are dealing with sobriety. People who by virtue of their former conditions are homeless.”
Currently, the organization is looking for between five and six acres of land within Sussex County that complies with various codes. The goal is to find land that would protect the safety of both participants and the surrounding community while helping to reduce homelessness, hopelessness, drug addiction and low self-esteem in a homeless population that has grown larger over the past few years.
The Community Project will feature community living, supported by a main house facility. Participants will take part in a program that will help them transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The main house will include bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities that participants can access as well as computers that will allow them to apply for jobs, services or further their education. Surrounding the main house will be a collection of small living quarters where participants will live until they transition from the program.
“For the most part, residents will begin their journey as unemployed homeless people, unable to pay rent, certainly unable to buy any property,” Martin explained. “The individual living quarters will not be placed on sub-divided, deeded lots. It is not a subdivision. It is a community for the enrichment of homeless, needy, the less fortunate and people seeking to be free from addiction. It will be a place for people to rise from the sociological bottom, through community program transition, into self-sufficient, contributing members of society.”
This is not a typical “tiny house” program that can be found in other areas of the country, Martin explained. In fact, Martin does not believe there is another program like this in the country. TAP FAITH is currently developing the paperwork that will be used to qualify people for the program. This includes intake paperwork, rules of comportment and guidelines for transition. Anyone who qualifies for living quarters must agree to participate in the transition program.
“The sole purpose of the project is to bring lifelong success to formerly homeless and addicted people,” Martin said. “We want every participant to successfully transition into a self-sufficient member of society.”
Cooking will not be permitted in the living quarters due to safety, fire and electric hazards. In addition there will not be water or bathroom facilities in the small buildings. These facilities will be available in the main house for use by those who are in the program. The group is currently completing a feasibility study that will address such issues as heating and cooling the small units. Martin pointed out that the homeless are unable to heat or cool tents, although low-voltage floor heating units may be added if the feasibility study indicates they should. Initially, the project will only be open to individuals, not children or families. Eventually, the group hopes to include families in the community, but they want to be sure the initial project is successful before expanding.
Currently, TAP FAITH is seeking financial assistance as well as volunteers who can help in the development of the project or assist in the location of suitable acreage. More information can be found at https://www.tapfaith.org/.
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