Home for the Homeless Opens in Howell

Deryn Younger, Editor

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With the holidays coming around quickly this year, it’s important to think about how you can both give to your loved ones, but also give back to those less fortunate in your community who need some extra TLC.

Many people are unaware of the local homeless camp which was authorized by the Township of Howell earlier this year to fully operate on a parcel of land owned by the township.  Howell Township passed a resolution which granted a non-profit organization, exclusive rights to use the land for the homeless camp.  The camp is located just off Route 9 South, shortly after the Walmart at the Estelle Lane U-turn. A single dirt road, just before the U-turn is where you will find the entrance.

The maximum number of homeless individuals the camp held was originally seven, however the number has recently been bumped up to fifteen. It’s important to realize that this may appear to be a small number of homeless individuals, but they are among the more than 700 homeless people living in Monmouth Country – all of which need help.  However, this camp is the only one recognized by a municipality and permitted to function on any township owned land within Monmouth County.

The people who choose to live on the land have to go through a screening process which includes filling out an application, performing a background check, and being assessed by a panel which includes a Georgian Court sociology professor, Kasturi Dasgupta, as well as Steve Brigham.

Reverend Steve Brigham is also a homeless advocate and a resident of the camp. He left his job and sold his house in 2006 in exchange for life at the camp, as well as to help start an organization to aid those less fortunate. Brigham often gives sermons to the people there, as well as helps with providing essential items and generous care to the homeless in the camp and all around Monmouth County.

Destiny’s Bridge is the non-profit organization which runs the camp. It was started by Reverend Brigham with the goal of not just simply providing a typical shelter-like environment, but rather a “mini home” in which the homeless individuals of Monmouth County can temporarily live in as they begin the process of healing and rehabilitating – providing they pass the screening process to live at the camp.

The Howell Township homeless camp is not just a place for the homeless to live for the rest of their days, rather it’s a refuge where homeless individuals can both have a place to live for a short while until they are able to get back on their feet again. Destiny’s Bridge and the camp are there to help with the basic necessities, but also have the backs of the homeless to help them grow, get better, and find their place in society once again.

One of the most important things to note is that while Howell Township has allowed the camp the means to operate, there is no guarantee on how long it will remain at that location, as one of the agreements in the resolution states the land can be sold or leased to someone else with thirty-days’ notice.    The people of Howell and surrounding communities as well as local businesses have made considerable and very generous donations throughout a majority of the camp’s life, although, the founders are always in need of more. Donations don’t necessarily have to be monetary – they can be some blankets, cans of hearty soup, packages of water, small propane tanks, clothing, or anything else that comes to mind.

Thinking of those close to you doesn’t always mean thinking of family and friends; it means thinking of those in your community, as well. While it is important to give to those you love this holiday season, it’s equally or if not even more important to give back to the local homeless people and those less fortunate in Howell and all around Monmouth County.

To donate to the homeless camp, contact Reverend Steve Brigham at 732-364-0340 or stop by the location with your donations.