By Jessica Creagan
VERO BEACH -- With a new roof and room renovations quickly being completed, a transition housing facility for some local homeless people could be ready for clients in October.
Camp Haven, the Indian River County nonprofit organization dedicated to providing temporary housing for adults without dependent children, is overseeing the renovations to the former Citrus Motel in Vero Beach close to the airport. The facility will soon be home to four or five homeless individuals in the program.
Lalita Janke, president of Camp Haven board of directors, said she is very excited about how far the project has progressed and for the future of Camp Haven.
"This is a project the entire community needs to address together. People need to understand if we support the homeless person they can become contributing members to our society," Mrs. Janke said.
Although there are a few overnight shelters in Indian River County for homeless families, there isn't an overnight shelter for single adults, or adults without children, so Camp Haven will step in to fill that void, she said.
The clients of Camp Haven will have stringent rules and expectations that will need to be met in order to continue staying on the Camp Haven campus, including drug testing and life skills coaching.
"So many people have had economic reversals due to losing their job, or falling ill and they are ashamed to admit they need shelter, so they are going from friend to friend, couch surfing or sleeping in cars," Mrs. Janke said.
Without a safe, constant source of shelter, it is psychologically difficult to get into a mindset to pick themselves up and try again at getting a job, she said.
"We're going to give people self-esteem," Mrs. Janke said.
The construction has progressed at a fairly steady pace since the old motel was purchased last December, even though there were some unexpected construction projects that came up during the renovation to bring the facility up to code, she said.
Louise Hubbard, the executive director of the Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council, and a member of the Camp Haven board, said her organization keeps facts on homelessness in Indian River County and the rest of the Treasure Coast.
In January of 2012, there were 774 homeless in Indian River County, and in January of this year, that number increased to 837 and 516 were adults.
Of that number, 427 adults were unemployed. Getting the adults back in the workforce is one way Camp Haven hopes to help people turn their lives around and get out of homelessness, Mrs. Janke said.
The general contractor on the renovation project is Summit Construction, who in turn has subcontracted some work out to other local contractors.
Mrs. Janke likened the renovation project to exactly the work they hoped to accomplish at Camp Haven, a transformation.
"Their lives will be transformed, just like the building," she said.
For more information about Camp Haven or how to participate in the project through donations, call (772) 999-3625 or visit www.buildcamphaven.org.