HOWELL – At a recent council meeting, the council approved a resolution that would authorize the sale of the property at 5998 Rt. 9 in Howell, also known as Destiny’s Bridge homeless encampment.
The property, known as Block 71, Lot 21, will go out to bid for $1,355,000.
In 2017, the council passed a resolution authorizing the land to be used by Destiny’s Bridge to become an encampment for the homeless to reside. Since then, the camp has garnered some attention through donations and drives to help serve the homeless.
Many proponents for the camp, including camp leader Minister Steve Brigham, came out to the meeting to express concerns over the sale of the land.
Minister Brigham was the first to speak up, thanking the council profusely for allowing the encampment to exist on the land for a year so far. “It has helped tremendously in live, real people…who otherwise would be in dire straits.”
Brigham said that he has personally experienced living in a tent for 11 years.
As Brigham and Mayor Theresa Berger noted, the placement of Destiny’s Bridge at 5998 Rt. 9 in Howell was worked on together between the council and representatives of the encampment last year.
Brigham called on his family’s personal history in the US to draw a deeper connection to his ethics. “I’m a 12th generation American myself. Thomas Brigham came in 1635 as a Puritan…he left the comforts of England and Europe and sacrificed and settled in the wilderness of America…because of ethics.”
He called on the need for ethical reasoning and human dignity, when it comes to working with the homeless or underprivileged.
“I feel it’s my American duty to stand up for our American ethics and to sacrifice as my forefathers did,” said Brigham.
In response to Brigham’s call to arms, Mayor Berger said that she believed the council did use good ethics in the beginning stages of working with Destiny’s Bridge, however, they still maintain and “ethical responsibility to the township.”
Berger explained that the property, if sold, could help lower property taxes for Howell residents. “It’s 12 people versus 55,000.”
“I look forward to continue to work with you to find another location or another area where you can relocate to,” she added.
Berger and Councilman Robert Walsh discussed, at the meeting, the possibility of working with the people of Destiny’s Bridge to help postpone a contract, should one come up, and to help the camp relocate in the meantime.
A few residents or proponents of the encampment came up to speak, thanking the council for the use of the land and urging them to work collaboratively with the homeless community to find other temporary solutions.
A representative of the board of Destiny’s Bridge remarked that she was “very heartened at the mayor’s words…that they aren’t going to throw us out, and I never doubted that.”