Homeless project important for Sussex

January 7, 2022

I have been closely following the application for the proposed homeless transitional housing development on Conley’s United Methodist Church property. I have followed similar projects in the national news, where a variety of nonprofits have sought to provide safe housing for the exploding numbers of homeless people across the country. Sussex is a prime example of this problem with a severely limited housing supply for those on the lowest end of the economic spectrum. Unfortunately, many of us with secure housing would prefer to ignore the reality that here in Sussex, families with children, with no financial alternatives, are forced to sleep in cars, in shelters or in encampments open to the elements. Paradoxically, we encounter the adults in these families filling the low-paying jobs we depend on as we go about our daily lives. 

What I find so attractive in the nonprofit Springboard Collaborative proposal to Conley’s for this transitional housing project, is that the families would be provided with the supportive services critical to helping them move beyond their current circumstances. Local homeless service organizations will be scheduled on site to provide the wraparound services for benefits counseling, job training, health, nutrition, transportation and other services. This established model fulfills Springboard’s mission to make transitional housing “brief, rare and non-recurring.” Of pivotal importance, this quality development can be built quickly and efficiently.  

At the Dec. 7 Sussex County Council meeting, a local resident was quoted as stating: “This proposal does not provide residents with the sense of dignity, self-respect and hope to change themselves and their lives.” I find this critique uninformed, self-serving and patently ludicrous. Do this individual’s comments imply that families currently sleeping in cars, in shelters or in encampments have a “sense of dignity?” I couldn’t agree more that Sussex County needs to develop a long-range, well-conceived plan to assure all residents affordable housing opportunities. However, in the here and now, as freezing temperatures affect all Sussex residents, with snow blanketing the entire region, human compassion demands that Conley’s United Methodist Church be supported in their efforts to provide a safe haven for our most vulnerable neighbors.

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Sue Claire Harper
Rehoboth Beach
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