Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

As part of the new Central Park of Morris County in Parsippany, the Board of Chosen Freeholders announced on July 23 that the county owned facility formerly used by the nonprofit Angel Connection has been awarded to Interfaith Council for the Homeless, the Eric Johnson House, and Hope House.

These three nonprofit organizations are collaborating to use the space to provide increased services to their clients, homeless families and those suffering from HIV and AIDS.

The Angel Connection facility became available when that organization’s director retired and the agency moved out of the 3,500 square foot building on Executive Way.

With the increasing need for nonprofit space in the community, the freeholders decided that this space should again be home to another nonprofit organization.

Under the leadership of Freeholder John Murphy, human services liaison, a bipartisan citizen advisory committee was formed and developed criteria for putting out a proposal to the nonprofit community for use of the space.

A Request for Application was sent to all local human service organizations in March, and 12 agencies submitted proposals to use the building, many in collaboration with others.

The advisory committee then developed rating criteria based on the collaborative effort, with a higher preference given to agencies collaborating in the space.

The criteria also included the agency’s fit to the wellness and recovery mission of the Central Park Nonprofit area; the enhancement of services for clients; and the ability of the organization(s) to fiscally and physically maintain the space.

Advisory committee members independently reviewed and ranked the proposals, then met to review the rankings and to make their recommendations to the freeholder board, which accepted them July 9.

The collaborative proposal submitted by Interfaith Council for the Homeless, the Eric Johnson House and Hope House received the highest ratings overall, and was the only proposal that combined the work of three different organizations.

Their collaborative also demonstrated a real need for the space, particularly since the Interfaith Council for the Homeless was in jeopardy of losing its space. The Eric Johnson House also had a great need to expand its capacity to house and provide counseling to residents with HIV and AIDS, and Hope House was in desperate need of space for its AIDs testing van.

The new facility in the Central Park of Morris County complex will provide a safe, healing and therapeutic environment in which these three organizations can help their clients. The agencies anticipate moving into their new home after Labor Day.

The county is in the process of addressing some structural issues at the facility, at a cost of approximately $50,000. In lieu of rent, the three agencies will be paying the capital cost back to the county over a 10 year time period.

This award marks the first step in the development of the nonprofit complex within the Central Park of Morris County. Other nonprofit development includes the ARC, which is already housed on the site, as well as plans for a new warehouse and program facility for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

Nonprofit development will also occur at the Central Avenue Complex, which will host a new human services mall to provide “one stop” access to services. This development will be underway now that the patients have been moved to the new Greystone Psychiatric Hospital.

The work is slated to be completed and agencies moved into the remodeled facility in 2010.

The Morris County Department of Human Services provides a wide range of help to those in need in the county including welfare and emergency benefits; help for families struggling with mental illness or substance abuse; youth services, including the Juvenile Detention Center and Youth Shelter; and the county’s inter-library loan and library services through the Morris County Library.

For more information, contact the department at (973) 285-6868 or visit the website at www.morrishumanservices.org.