Interns design the future of 36 West St.
— A new housing project aims to provide permanent housing for area homeless, but it will require a village of resources to reach completion.
“It has taken a village to get this property up and running,” said Marilyn Neal, director of the Neighborhood Service Center. “Business are stepping up to build a strong support system for the project.”
The building at 36 N. West St. in Easton soon will open as a low-rent housing option for residents of Talbot County.
“We are going to be able to give 28 people a place to live that is affordable to them at about half the lowest rent in Talbot County,” said Molly Burgoyne, Neighborhood Service Center board chairman.
She said the goal is to complete the project by fall or winter to safely house some of the homeless individuals in the area.
Neal hired Ward Burcher of Encore Sustainable Design in Easton to handle the required architectural changes.
“While the building as always served as a housing facility for many years, it hasn’t been updated,” Burcher said. “It doesn’t meet the new codes, and it has turned out to be quite a task.”
To help with the task, Burcher enlisted two summer interns, Candice Thornton and Christopher Taylor, to design the changes for the building.
Thornton attends Clemson University in South Carolina, and Taylor attends Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Both interns are majoring in architecture and said this project has meant a lot to them.
Thorton said her dream always has been to help nonprofits and families in need. She said this experience has solidified those dreams for her.
Taylor said he has worked on other projects in the past, but this one was the most important.
“Being able to work on a project like this has really been fulfilling,” Taylor said.
“The three of us made up the team that did this part of the project,” Burcher said.
Thorton and Taylor said they plan to come back once the project is complete to see the final results.
“Without this group helping us, we would not have been able to get to the next stage,” Burgoyne said. “We would not have been able to afford it.”
The building was donated in September by Gregory Webb to the Neighborhood Service Center.
Webb had used the property for rental units in the past, but Neal saw a greater purpose for it.
Once complete, the building will become a rental property for individuals in the area who are homeless and on fixed income of less than $750 a month.
“It is to help support homelessness, and it will provide permanent housing to 28 individuals,” Neal said.
Even though the property will house only 28 people, Neal has had twice that amount apply.
“We have had 58 people apply for the housing already,” Neal said. “That speaks volumes to the homelessness problem in our area.”
Neal and associates had to acquire several permits through the Talbot County Department of Planning and Zoning and the Historical Society to get the project off the ground.
Nearly a year later, the property has undergone some significant changes with more plans in the works.
Some of those plans include a significant overhaul to the inside of the building, with new windows, heating and air conditioning units in each rental, increasing the overhead space in the stairwell and making the property handicapped accessible for future residents.
The proposed changes soon will be carried out by Shore Hospitality Contractors of Easton.
Once complete, the property will have a housing manager to look after it and to make sure the day-to-day operations run smoothly. The center also hopes to hire a case manager who will assist the residents.
For more information about the project or to donate, contact the Neighborhood Service Center at or www.nsctalbotmd.org.
From left: Molly Burgoyne, Neighborhood Service Center board chairperman; interns Candice Thornton and Christopher Taylor; Ward Burcher; and Marilyn Neal, director of the Neighborhood Service Center.