JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines has been holding preliminary and private discussions to build a county-sponsored homeless shelter on a site in Jackson where the Freeholders once quietly proposed a prison work farm.
That homeless shelter is the brainchild of Toms River Councilman Terrance Turnbach and Paul Hulse, of Just Believe Inc., a non-profit group that provides services to the homeless.
The project was publicly revealed this week in a story published in the Press of Atlantic City.
“Just Believe is in the process of securing land in 2021 for a transitional housing center that will be built in Ocean County, said Hulse in the article. “We are working with (County Commissioners) Gary Quinn, Virginia Haines, and others. … As I reflect back on the last four years, where all this began, and I see where Code Blue has consistently served the homeless and disenfranchised, providing them a voice, it is truly amazing.”
Edit: SNN incorrectly identified Freeholder Gerry Little instead of Freeholder Gary Quinn. The next paragraph has been updated.
“I have never had any discussion with the two Commissioners regarding any property in Jackson Township. Furthermore, I have had no conversations with these Commissioners concerning this property or any other property in Ocean County. I am not even aware if these Commissioners actually have had any such discussions with anyone else about this matter,” Freeholder Little said.
After asking around in the county offices, it was revealed by sources who wish to remain anonymous for fear of retribution that Haines, Quinn, and Turnbach are eyeing the county-owned property in Jackson Township.
In 1989, the Board of Chosen Freeholders sought to build an annex of the Ocean County Jail on a plot of land owned by the county on Cedar Swamp Road just north of Route 195.
The county ended up buying the land and bonding $9.5 million to build a prison work farm. It was all done behind the backs of Jackson residents, but once residents caught wind of what the county was planning to build, the township united and squashed that plan. The land has sat vacant since. The idea was to build a prison work farm on the 11 acre tract that sits just north of the Jackson Twenty-One project.
It is within walking distance to the Jackson Township park and ride public transportation hub, fulfilling one of the requirements set forth this winter by Turnbach.
Terrance Turnbach, a wealthy and politically connected criminal defense attorney based out of Toms River proposed the idea for a homeless shelter in Ocean County last fall. He brazenly told the people of his town, he would gladly build the homeless shelter in his own backyard. Instead, he now wants to build it in Jackson.
He has the support of Commissioners Virginia Haines and Gary Quinn to build it in Jackson. Turnbach is a Democrat. By day he is a criminal defense attorney who represents the worst of society including pedophiles, rapists and sexual offenders. By night, he’s a Toms River Township Councilman on a mission to build a homeless shelter for the county’s homeless.
Under the 1989 plan by the county, the prison facility would have been able to house 100 inmates. A much larger facility can be built on the site in its capacity as a homeless shelter. The shelter would be a beacon for all of New Jersey’s homeless, an escape from inner-city shelters. In previous years the Ocean County freeholders would give free bus tickets to the homeless and transport them to the Atlantic County homeless shelter.
Turnbach pressured Haines and the County Commissioners (Freeholders) to work with him to build a homeless shelter. Haines visited Turnbach’s overnight homeless sleepover in front of Toms River Town Hall last month.
“Friends and family, residents of Ocean County, please take a moment to listen to and understand the position we are coming from when we urge the Ocean County Commissioners/Freeholders to work with Just Believe Inc and other non-profits to secure a building or land to construct a transitional housing center for the homeless residents of Ocean County,” Turnbach said. “Out of 21 Counties in the State of New Jersey, Ocean County is the only County that does not provide a transitional housing center for the area’s homeless. This is simply unacceptable. With proper services including mental health treatment and a real plan, we can achieve an end to chronic homelessness.”
If the Turnbach, Haines’ plan succeeds, other counties would be giving their homeless populations bus tickets to Jackson Township. The homeless shelter will be built across the street from the prestigious Metedeconk National Golf Course.
In 1989, the freeholders almost got away with backdooring the Township of Jackson with a 100 cell prison work farm, but township leaders fought it. Now, township leaders are tightly aligned with Haines’ political machine, run by township Attorney Greg McGuckin and Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman.
Jackson Township has no representation on the Ocean County Board of Commissioners.