In 1983, religious and business leaders looked out from their buildings and saw people who had no home. They decided that in their community all people should have shelter from the cold and food for the day. In May of 1983 Morris Shelter, Inc. was created as a private, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization.
In the beginning, Morris Shelter, Inc. provided beds and meals to men in the Manse of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. The Morris County Freeholders’ Homeless Steering Committee had been asked to address the situation of homeless people in Morris County. The committee’s study led to the Freeholders approving the establishment on county property of an Emergency Shelter. Morris Shelter, Inc. opened a shelter at the “old” Morris View Nursing Home facility on West Hanover Avenue in Morris Township in 1985. At the time, a 10-year lease was signed between Morris Shelter, Inc. and Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders for the use of the first floor of Building II.
Morris Shelter, Inc. had a successful capital campaign to renovate the building, raising $385,000 from individuals, businesses and foundations. Morris Shelter opened its doors at the new site in March of 1987, and with the help of volunteers and staff the shelter was able to provide 45 shelter beds, meals, clothing and supportive services for men, women, and children.
In 1994, the Family Shelter Program was expanded to the second floor of the shelter after the space was renovated. When the program began, a Head Start Childcare Program and counseling services were added. Beginning in 1995, educational services through the GED/Adult Basic course and a Life Skills Course were offered on site.
The Safe Haven Program
In 1995, the Safe Haven Program was started to serve the mentally ill homeless who were living on the streets. This program continues to be a joint effort with the Mental Health Association of Morris Country. Referral services to other agencies in the county are provided through case management.
Family Transitional Housing Program
In 1996, the Family Transitional Housing facility was completed and is now serving ten families. Case management services and referral services are offered to the residents in the Transitional Housing Program (THP) so employment and income goals are met, life skills are acquired, and savings goals for placement into independent housing are achieved.
Expanding our Vision
As the nineties progressed, the lack of affordable housing emerged as a critical gap in service to the working poor. Families ready to leave the Shelter weren’t able to find low-income apartments, thus prolonging their stay and limiting access to other families needing shelter. In 1999, to address the lack of low-income housing, the shelter expanded our mission to include the development of affordable housing for working poor families.
This new vision led to our new name, Homeless Solutions, Inc. Homeless Solutions has strengthened its commitment to completing the continuum of care for the homeless from shelter to independent housing. Our goal, through Housing Development, a separate division of HSI, is to increase the supply of affordable housing through construction, renovation and advocacy for low- and moderate-income people.
Homes People Can Afford
- 2004 – Our first housing development project, the Jean Street Apartments, 15 units of low-income rentals in Morris Township, were completed in the spring of 2004. The Apartments are “service enriched,” offering social work support to tenant families.
- 2006 – HSI opened four apartments of affordable housing in Roxbury Township.
- 2008 – In October, we opened the Abbett Avenue Apartments, an award winning affordable apartment development with 12 energy-efficient homes in Morristown.
- 2009 – In January, HSI renovated an existing structure on Abbett Avenue in Morristown and created two environmentally friendly, two bedroom apartments for families.
- 2010 – In February, we opened four additional, energy efficient one bedroom apartments on Harrison Street in Morristown.
- 2011 – In September, HSI opened ten affordable, environmentally friendly apartments in Washington Township. It would later become the first LEED Platinum certified (highest rating) multifamily development of any kind, market or affordable, in Morris County.
- 2012 – Continuing our neighborhood revitalization efforts, in August, we converted a property in foreclosure on Abbett Avenue in Morristown into two fully renovated, green, one bedroom apartments.
- 2013 – In May, we opened six, energy efficient apartments on MLK Avenue in Morristown for low income households avoiding or emerging from homelessness. Also in May, we merged with and assumed management and responsibility for The Mt. Kemble Home in order to keep this housing available for older women in our community. A $1 million plus renovation is underway and will be completed in 2016.
Homeless Solutions Today
Today, Homeless Solutions, Inc. provides shelter for 25 homeless men, 10 homeless women, 10 families and 20 Safe Haven guests. Our guests receive services including case management, transportation to work and necessary appointments, money management and employment assistance, housing search assistance and daily living skills training. Referral services for counseling, substance abuse intervention, and prevention are also provided.
Homeless Solutions, Inc. employs 49 staff, 36 full time and 13 part time. Homeless Solutions, Inc. is governed by a Board of Trustees and is incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of New Jersey.