Anne Street Village will soon be teeming with life; a sense of relief, hope and security overflowing from the brand-new gated community.
The city of Salisbury announced the completion of Anne Street Village, the city’s first transitional housing community for homeless residents, April 6. The village, located in the city’s historic Church Street neighborhood, will welcome its first group of residents in May 2023.
The non-congregate shelter features 23 private units, a 4-unit central personal hygiene facility, courtyard area, and wellness center, which will provide wraparound services to all residents including mental and physical health care, addictions counseling and workforce development registration.
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Each unit will house one of Salisbury’s homeless residents, and includes a bed, refrigerator, HVAC units, fire suppression system and standard set of additional amenities to make each resident feel at home.
The village’s vibrant color scheme, a medley of pink, purple, yellow, green and blue, was inspired by its surrounding neighborhood.
“We have a large Haitian American population here in this general area,” said Ron Strickler, Director of Housing and Community Development. “If you’ve been down to the Caribbean, it’s all bright and vibrant. We wanted to promote that atmosphere here.”
What’s next for Salisbury’s new homeless housing village
A structured roll-out will take place, allowing six individuals at a time to settle in, ensuring that each resident is given enough time to properly acclimate to their new surroundings. The acclimation period is intended to last three weeks.
“This will be a really strong test for us, but I think we’re going to find success,” said Strickler.
According to Strickler, the shelter has 23 individuals on the waitlist ready to get moved in.
In collaboration with case managers, each resident will participate in a three-tiered program to facilitate the transition into permanent supportive housing through the city’s Housing First program. Residents will work with their case manager to develop daily living skills, savings and budgeting plans, and self-determined SMART Goals in preparation for obtaining permanent housing.
Those who qualify for the program must be 18 years or older, a Wicomico County resident and considered chronically homeless.
The goal of Anne Street Village is to transition residents into permanent supportive housing by month 12, whenever possible. This time includes an initial acclimation period of up to 60 days. However, Strickler acknowledged that one year may not be possible for everyone.
The longest amount of time any individual may remain a part of the program is two years, he said. By then, the individual is expected to have gained the resources necessary to move into a permanent supportive housing program.
Rehousing an individual into permanent supportive housing averages about $3,500, including first month’s rent and security deposit, furniture, home goods and groceries.
Residents will be given responsibilities to build community
Anne Street Village will be partnering with Homes 4 Hope to establish an overnight resident assistant position, said Strickler. The preselected RA will reside in a unit on-site from approximately 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The individual will also be approved to counsel fellow residents who are in need of any immediate assistance.
To keep residents on track, each individual will be responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, cutting grass, taking out trash and more daily and weekly tasks. Residents will be allowed guests in the village, said Strickler, but guest hours will be put in place.
Any negligence on a resident’s part will result in standing in front of a disciplinary review board.
“This is their home. They need to treat it that way,” Strickler said. “We’re going to try to be as low barrier as possible, but it’s give and take.”
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There will be a specific guide each participant must sign and follow upon entering into the program agreement with the Anne Street Village operation. In time, the village will host a monthly homeowners association (HOA) meeting where residents will be given the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions.
According to Strickler, eventually, Anne Street Village intends to build a facility dedicated solely to laundry services so that residents won’t need to travel offsite. Security, including a gated entrance and a biometric fingerprint reader, will also be put in place.
“Every night, a homeless individual wonders where they’re going to sleep, if somebody is going to take their stuff and, when they walk away from what they have, if it is going to be there when they get back,” Strickler said.
“They’re in this fight or flight mode,” he shared. “If we can put a roof over their head and give them an opportunity to collect their thoughts and get back on track, they can become an asset to the rest of the community.”
Spending every moment of every day in fight or flight mode makes it easier to lose track of time.
“Some folks have been chronically homeless for 10, 15 years. Most of the time they don’t even realize it,” Strickler said. “We housed an individual last year through our permanent supportive housing program who had been homeless for about 13 years. But when we asked him, he said (it had been) maybe six or seven years.”
Ending homelessness a continuing project for Salisbury
Homelessness does not have a face. It is often a silent epidemic — one that may creep in through a sudden, life-threatening illness, the traumatic loss of a parent or family member, the need to escape domestic violence or even the cost of an unexpected divorce.
People can become homeless for a gamut of different reasons, said Strickler.
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Other places on the Delmarva Peninsula have built similar structures to Anne Street Village. In February, Georgetown, Delaware, opened a temporary shelter village of its own, which now houses nearly 50 homeless people.
“Everybody in the city has touched this project in some way or another,” Strickler said. “It’s been a bumpy road. It hasn’t been easy by any means. We’re a year behind when we wanted to open, but we’re there.”
The city of Salisbury took its first steps in ending homelessness on the Lower Shore in 2016 by starting the Salisbury Housing First program.
“We have to provide solutions. Who else is going to provide them if we don’t?” Strickler said.
He’s not sure if there’s one solution that’s better than others, but believes it’s important to at least try.
“We have to help how we can. Otherwise the problem will just continue to get worse,” Strickler said. “Even if it’s not in an individual’s best interest (to help), as a community, it is. It’s broader than that. It touches everyone in the community.”
Salisbury residents invited to join in celebration
“Anne Street Village is a much needed resource for our chronically homeless in Salisbury and will be a beacon of hope for years to come,” said Mayor Jack Heath.
“I have no doubt that Salisbury will wrap their arms around this place and these people, and I can’t wait to watch as Anne Street Village grows into a vibrant, thriving part of Salisbury,” Heath said. “Thank you to our Department of Housing and Community Development for their tireless service to our City’s unsheltered population.”