LYNN — The City Council unanimously approved the creation of 24 studio units for homeless young adults at 57 Munroe St. on Tuesday night.
The council renewed a two-year permit for the project titled Catalyst, which Pastor Kurt Lange brought to the panel again on behalf of the East Coast International Church and the Haven Project. Since the last permit was issued, the project grew from 12 studios to 24.
Catalyst is also sponsored by Harborlight Community Partners, a Massachusetts-certified Community Development Corporation.
The studios will occupy the top two vacant floors in the building owned by the East Coast International Church. They will house 18-to-24-year-old adults from the North Shore who aged out of the Department of Children and Families’ programs and are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
This will be permanent supportive housing for eligible individuals. There will be two case managers on site, one of whom will be living in one of the studios full-time.
Tenants will receive housing vouchers from the state to pay for rent there, Lange said.
Construction will be completed in mid-2022.
Two residents of the neighborhood came out to the meeting to express their concerns about the project.
Sara Schreiner, of Oxford Street, said that she had concerns about the substance abuse in the neighborhood. She said her young children see needles on the streets every day and she has pictures of addicts injecting drugs around their building.
“I don’t think that this is the time to put more at-risk kids in the neighborhood,” said Schreiner, who is a registered nurse and deals with overdoses at her job. “The drugs are accessible; they are everywhere. This is not going to help.”
Schreiner was concerned that the tenants won’t be motivated to get jobs. She wanted to know that there is a plan to keep the tenants away from drugs.
Lydia Merredew of Oxford Street, Schreiner’ neighbor, shared the same experience of seeing addicts use drugs and calling police on them.
“We need more police patrol on this street,” said Merredew.
“We are fully aware of what we are facing,” said Lange, adding that these are kids who hit the roadblocks, not people with substance-use problems. “This is not a recovery program.”
The Haven Project will provide supervision on site, job training and coaching, and encouragement to pursue education at the North Shore Community College or other schools in the area.
Lange answered additional questions from the councilors.
There won’t be a curfew because these people are adults, but the project will be staffed with social workers and a full-time executive director who has appropriate experience and education. There will be rules in place, however, for living at this facility, said Lange.
The eviction process, if needed, will be the same as for any other tenants in Massachusetts. The housing vouchers won’t be traveling vouchers from other communities and the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development will be involved in the project.
Lange said that these units are meant to give young people a launch in life.
Councilor-at-Large Brian Field, who chairs the opioid subcommittee, promised to have a meeting with Schreiner, Merredew, and the police to discuss the situation on Munroe and Oxford streets.