Anne Street Village provides hope and homes for unhoused residents
The City of Salisbury’s Housing and Community Development Department opened its brand new Anne Street Village in a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 21.
The village, located on Church Street and consisting of 23 units, will provide wraparound services for residents including mental and physical healthcare, addiction counseling, resume building and workforce development registration.
The village aims to transition residents into permanent housing within 12 months, including an acclimation period. Each unit includes a bed, HVAC unit, refrigerator and other standard amenities to make each resident feel at home.
Each resident will collaborate with case managers to participate in a three-tiered transition process through the city's Housing First program, enabling them to develop daily living skills, financial plans and self-determined goals.
Mayor Jack Heath is proud of Salisbury’s completion of the project, which is part of a new approach to housing and homelessness.
"Anne Street Village is a part of our Housing First initiative, an approach that is grounded in the belief that housing is the foundation for life’s improvement,” he said. “This project will give our unhoused neighbors stability in footing and a solid foundation as we guide them along this new path, one that will allow them to improve their mental and physical health, enter the workforce and ultimately transition into permanent housing with the help of our team."
Director of Housing and Community Development Ron Strickler emphasized the importance of the project and its ability to provide a sense of stability for community members.
“I just ask you to take a moment to reflect and think back to a time when you were in a very fearful situation – a time when you were just down on your luck – your body has a natural response to that called fight or flight,” Strickler said. “Think about living in that every single day, the village will allow 23 individuals to get out of that fight or flight mode and really focus on what they need to acclimate back into society in permanent housing.”
Former mayor Jake Day, now serving as secretary of housing and community development under Governor Wes Moore, returned to Salisbury to watch the project that began under his administration come to fruition. He stressed the responsibility of communities to support their unhoused populations.
"Every human being deserves shelter – there’s nowhere in federal, state or municipal law that requires us to do anything for our homeless citizens,” Day said. “This isn’t about what we must do according to the letter of the law, this is about what we must do because it is the right thing to do."
The project was not without challenges, with supply chain issues causing substantial delays in the timeline. However, Heath emphasized that "there was never a day we weren’t working on something behind the scenes.”
“We were developing programming, building teams and working with the community on the big picture: solving homelessness in Salisbury."
Manager of Housing and Homeless Services Brett Sanders said he sees the village as the first step to accessible and affordable housing for all community members.
"There’s somewhere between 200-300 folks that are unhoused around the shore,” he said. “If we can do something to start making affordable housing a reality, that’s the next step."
Salisbury is now the smallest city in the U.S. with a permanent supportive housing program, which extends beyond providing shelter to building new pathways.
By LIAM MCGINNES
Featured images courtesy of Liam McGinnes