- Kevin D. Thompson Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
That’s what Burckle Place, a program to help single homeless women get back on their feet, has meant to the women who have gone through it.
The Lord’s Place, which runs the program, has taken the next step to aid those women even further.
Earlier this month, The Lord’s Place broke ground on Burckle Place West, a new facility on South J Street in Lake Worth, just a few feet from Burckle Place.
“This will be a place where 11 women can take one more step towards independence,” Diana Stanley, The Lord’s Place chief executive officer, said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “These women will continue to grow as leaders.”
One of those women could be Dawn Muse.
After getting out of a bad relationship last year, Muse, who has no family in Palm Beach County, found herself living on the street for nearly a month.
She became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Muse, 48, didn’t know where her next meal was coming from or where she was going to lay her head.
“It was crazy,” she recalled. “Being on the streets is no place for a woman to be. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Now Muse, who works as a cashier at Zaxby’s restaurant in West Palm Beach, is a candidate for one of the spots in the new $1.4 million, 6,200-square-foot affordable housing facility that should be open in a year.
The campus-style complex will feature one two-bedroom apartment, three three-bedroom apartments and six bathrooms. Each apartment will be rented to a graduate of Burckle Place. The women will share a common eating and living room area.
Current and past Burckle Place women will have to apply for the apartments just like they would for any other. They can live there for up to two years.
The rent hasn’t been determined, but Val Stanley, director of women’s services and affordable housing for The Lord’s Place, said the nonprofit is considering having the women pay 30 percent of their income.
“They’re learning how to be more independent and be more fiscally responsible,” Stanley said. “It takes them to that next step. The women would have spent anywhere from six to nine months at Burckle Place where they attend workshops, programs and are working on enhancing their skills so they won’t become homeless again.”
Karyn Perales has been in Burckle Place since January.
“It changed my life,” said Perales, 61, who works as a paralegal and is taking classes at Palm Beach State College. “It’s given me the opportunity to be the woman I always wanted to be.”
So far, The Lord’s Place has raised $835,000 for Burckle Place West. Another $600,000 is needed. Most of the money raised came from Edwynn Burckle, a retired real estate developer and the program’s largest benefactor.
Burckle said he bought into Stanley’s vision of the need for a program that specifically catered to single homeless women who were not the victim of domestic violence and didn’t have substance abuse or mental illness issues.
“Homelessness is so bad and I’ve always wanted to do something about it,” a teary-eyed Burckle said. “In my lifetime, this is the most important thing I’ve ever done.”