Proposed homeless shelter in Flemington, NJ has people fuming
This is one of those moments that should make you stare deep into your soul.
People in Flemington were expected to pack a public meeting Tuesday night over a proposed homeless shelter in a nice residential neighborhood.
The house at 8 New York Ave. is owned by the Cavalry Episcopal Church and at present is used for Sunday school classes and office space.
But Family Promise is a nonprofit that wants to convert the house into a homeless shelter for displaced families.
More than 30 years ago people of different faiths from Hunterdon County churches formed a group to provide temporary housing for homeless folks and they’ve been doing that at a facility in surrounding Raritan Township. Now they want a land use variance in order to use the building on New York Avenue in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood to house more people.
Some neighbors aren’t having it. Signs reading STOP THE SHELTER have gone up on lawns. People are nervous and angry. The meeting Tuesday night was expected to be so heavily attended they were holding it not at the borough hall but on Stangl Road at a place normally serving as a farmer’s market.
Family Promise says its “proposed supervised transitional housing for children and families experiencing homelessness satisfies a desperate need of the County of Hunterdon.”
They’re not wrong. According to MyCentralJersey.com, they are the only homeless shelter serving the entire county. Which happens to be one of the richest counties in the country, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t unfortunate souls who fall on bleak times. What are they to do?
Yet I also understand the fear of those fighting against it. I’m sure they’re greatly concerned about their property values. It’s likely they’re worried about potential problems being caused by homeless people in the place they raise their kids.
Family Promise says the stories of those who needed their services are heartbreaking. On their website, they share this video of some of them telling their tales.
I understand the neighbors complaining about the project are just looking out for their own families. But isn’t there something to be said for society looking out for each other, too? How do you turn your back on people facing this?
Hard questions with no easy answers. And answers will have to wait more weeks. At the last minute Tuesday night, a postponement was called until Sept. 13 due to the attorney for Family Promise falling ill, according to former Flemington councilman Joey Novick.
The stop the shelter signs will stay up until then, and people facing desperate nights will no doubt have more of them.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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