An ambitious effort is underway to convince Lakewood officials to welcome a pilot program for the homeless. Homeless advocate Tom O'Malley, a former Old Bridge Councilman and member of 'Catholics and Friends With A Heart for the Homeless',  will be at the Township Library on Wednesday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to discuss the concept of micro-housing and detail funding ideas.

Tom O'Malley/photo courtesy of Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media

O'Malley wants Lakewood officials to allow 15 of the single-occupant units to be built in the Township, "All we're looking for is a very small parcel of land, acre, half-an acre would be fine."

Each unit costs about $11,000 to be built, but O'Malley is optimistic funding won't be an issue. He plans on seeking donations from the Catholic Church community, individuals and Habitat for Humanity. "If we can get Habitat For Humanity involved that will cut our expenses down probably 40 to 45 percent," he said.

O'Malley expects location to be a bigger factor than funding, noting the term homelessness has a stigma about it. He said the units provide a better alternative to someone sleeping in a tent.

O'Malley said allowing the pilot program to move forward would put Lakewood in a positive light. "People will come all over, I can guarantee you, just like they're doing on the west coast."

A similar program in Mount Olympus, Washington is successful O'Malley said.

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