Belltown church wrong location for homeless shelter

June 16, 2017

The Mission Team of Bethel United Methodist Church argued in Letters, June 9-June 12, that only by recognizing and acting to address the needs of the homeless will the stability of the larger community be assured.

No one with a heart would dispute the role of the church in providing ministry to those unfortunates among us who need a helping hand. But would the destabilization of a family neighborhood in the name of social justice truly serve to improve the larger community of which we all are a part?

The deteriorating Belltown church located at the immediate entrance to Henlopen Landing, where neighborhood children play and are transported to Lewes schools, may well deserve to be moved to a new location as a fitting monument to the historic Belltown community.

This is something that should be considered along with a plan to fix the severe traffic problems associated with the site. But convert the site to a homeless shelter? Clearly, no.

It is indisputable that the neighborhood around the church has changed dramatically, and property values and quality of life have risen due to all the lovely residential communities surrounding the old structure. And the proud Belltown citizens can see new potential for continued decreases in crime and increases in home values as the general area grows in desirability. It hardly makes sense to drag a revitalizing area down by cramming homeless people into a claustrophobic location in between overcrowded and dangerous highways, and a neighborhood full of young children.

We may wonder why the church and other shelter supporters fail to understand the negative impact a homeless shelter on the Belltown site would have - for both surrounding neighbors and the homeless themselves - and do not seek a better location for a homeless shelter.

A better location would provide room for expansion where there is none on the postage stamp-sized property of the old church. A better location would not place the surrounding family community in danger of harm to their children, crime and lowered property values. In short, the Belltown church site is the wrong location for a homeless shelter.

S. D. Lee


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