A small cluster of tiny homes is offering a measure of hope and a fresh start for formerly incarcerated men in New Jersey.
The half-dozen 100-square-foot homes are part of the Village of Hope transitional housing program in Bridgeton, which opened in November. Each individual unit is heated and cooled and contains a bed, storage space and desk. A shared kitchen, communal bathroom and community room are located on the property.
“Approximately 10 to 15 percent of parolees are homeless or become homeless upon release from prison,” says Kevin McHugh, executive director of the Reentry Coalition of New Jersey. “Without stable housing, it is not possible to help address the challenges that these individuals face.”
The program’s goal is to provide free, temporary housing to formerly incarcerated people for up to six months.
As well as a place to live, Village of Hope helps residents secure employment and permanent housing and offers services such as help getting a driver’s licence and gaining access to health and wellness resources.
Village of Hope is a collaboration between the Kintock Group, the Gateway Community Action Partnership and the Reentry Coalition of New Jersey, with significant backing from Bridgeton mayor Albert Kelly, who has been pushing to get these homes built. He has said that he’d like to see the Cumberland County program expand statewide.
“The coalition is looking at this as a demonstration project,” McHugh says. “I see this as an opportunity to try an alternative approach to address what has been an intractable situation.”
Find more information and an application at kintock.org/village-of-hope or by calling 856-459-2701.