By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - The directors of Camp Haven, a nonprofit with a mission to provide temporary housing for homeless adults trying to get back on their feet, have their eye on a more durable structure for their housing site.
The board of directors announced last week they have a contract with Land Holding LLC to purchase the recently foreclosed Citrus Motel property located on U.S. 1 across from the Vero Beach Airport.
The organization currently leases property on Second Street in southwest Vero Beach, and will continue to keep it while the purchase of the Citrus Motel is explored, said Dennis Bartholomew, CEO of Camp Haven and executive director of The Source, an outreach ministry for the homeless and near homeless in the community.
"These new developments come as a direct result of conversations we've been having with civic leaders and with concerned citizens. A solution needs to be found, one that fits the needs of our clients and one that fits the needs of this county; we strongly feel this solution does both," Mr. Bartholomew said in a press release.
The cost to purchase, renovate and repair the 20-unit facility will be approximately $700,000, he said.
That money has yet to be raised and Camp Haven hopes to close on the motel by Dec. 12, Mr. Bartholomew said in an interview.
The shift to a hard- structure shelter as opposed to a soft, tent-based temporary housing facility might possibly cost slightly less over time, he said.
Once the repairs are completed, the structure should stand for many years, while in a tent camp, tents would need to be replaced at a faster rate.
Pat Geyer, project manager, said on-going site maintenance would be coordinated by program participants.
An on-site kitchen would be available for three meals each day and e program participants would need to organize the meals, she said.
The location on U.S. 1, makes transportation for program participants a little bit easier, another plus for Camp Haven's board.
Mr. Bartholomew hopes the purchase will accelerate the process and get the program up and running faster.
Though the location may be new, the program mission and forms of assistance will remain the same, he said.
The program will be available to adults without dependent children who must undergo a rigorous qualification period that will include background and drug testing.
"We want to help people who want to get out of homelessness and back into the workforce," MR. Bartholomew said.
The Camp Haven program will include training in self-sufficiency with life skills and education classes, as well as provide a safe place to live and to provide peace of mind.
"When you are homeless, every day is a challenge; and living illegally in the woods makes it almost impossible to participate in a daily, concentrated program," Ms. Geyer said in a press release.
The property in southwest Vero Beach will not be abandoned quickly, it could still be used as a shelter in the future, or used for something else Mr. Bartholomew said.
To donate, contact Mr. Bartholomew at The Source at (772) 564-0202.