By Tom Campisi
The Market Street Mission has been a place of hope and healing in Morristown, New Jersey since 1889, serving the local community by providing meals and shelter and offering addiction-recovery programs.
In 2007, the Market Street Mission and Executive Director David Scott expanded the ministry and launched the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
More recently, the focus has been on “hospitality rooms,” which are hosted by local churches. In 2021, after being invited to open a hospitality room at the invitation of community leaders, the Market Street Mission started a Sussex County outreach in the town of Newton.
Because hospitality rooms are hosted in a local church, they are not subject to the state regulations required of traditional shelters, including local zoning laws. For the last two years, Market Street Mission has partnered with Christ Community Church, offering men much-needed shelter, food, showers, and counseling.
“The community is very appreciative of us,” said Scott. “They see us as a positive influence.”
Despite the success of the program, the State of New Jersey’s Department of Consumer Affairs has fined Market Street Mission $5,000, accusing the non-profit organization of operating beyond the number of mandated days in a calendar year.
The regulations for a hospitality house, as Scott and MSM understood them, seemed pretty simple. The outreach could have 14 people sleep for 14 consecutive days at the church; No man could stay a total of 49 days in a given year. The Department of Consumer Affairs, however, is claiming the state regulation declares that hospitality rooms can only operate for a total of 49 days in a calendar year. This would severely limit any outreach program.
“If that is the case (being allowed to open for a total of 49 days each year), it closes off the possibility of winning the community and hinders us from being able to meet basic needs,” Scott said.
The Market Street Mission is currently awaiting a meeting with the Department of Consumer affairs for clarification. Scott is also hopeful that state legislators can be advocates.
“People need to see all the great things that happen here,” Scott said. “When a guy comes in the front door and is hopeless, we often see his whole life turned around—and that life has meaning and purpose.”
To volunteer or give to Market Street Mission, visit www.marketstreet.org.