In­terns de­sign the fu­ture of 36 West St.

Sunday Star - - LOCAL - By DENAE SPIERING dspier­ing@ches­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Dspier­ing617

— 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.nsc­tal­


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.

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