Two weeks ago, Immanuel Shelter announced there would be no Code Purple Shelter this winter in the Cape Region. In the past week, temperatures have dipped well into freezing at night, yet there still isn’t a place for the area’s homeless to go.
In an email Dec. 23, Immanuel Shelter volunteer Don Peterson said there’s been a tremendous outpouring of concern, but the shelter has not had an offer of space large enough to use as a Code Purple Shelter. As a result, he said, the shelter is working on several potential piecemeal solutions.
Peterson said one woman has offered a summer rental large enough to house up to eight people; negotiations have begun with one church to use its facility for part of the season; and another church has offered the space behind the church for a temporary facility, but there are significant permitting requirements.
Peterson said there’s been a lot of interest expressed from the community to use the now-empty Troop 7 barracks on Route 1 outside Lewes. The new Troop 7, off Mulberry Knoll Road, opened Dec. 18. Peterson said the shelter has not heard of any response regarding this possibility.
In an email Dec. 20, Sgt. Richard Bratz, Delaware State Police spokesman, said the state police were still in the process of removing all the property and equipment from the building. He said he would let the Cape Gazette know when that process was complete.
Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth, said Dec. 23, that he and Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, are working on trying to get Troop 7 open as a temporary solution. He said they’ve spoken with Health and Social Services and the Office of Management and Budget, but there are regulatory issues related to surplus state property. He said they are trying to work through those regulations, but it doesn’t appear that it will happen before Christmas.
As he did during the community meeting, Peterson continued to ask for the community to pressure local elected officials that this is a community issue, not just a church issue.
“The local churches have been very generous in their willingness to provide funding, but without a building to use as a shelter, there is little that can be done,” said Peterson. “Homeless people are everywhere. This community needs to come together and address this crisis together.”
Peterson said the homeless community continues to do what it always has done to try to survive – sleeping in tents, cars or wherever they can find a place to hide.
“At times past, this has even included empty trash containers,” said Peterson.
Peterson said Immanuel Shelter has, when essential to health and welfare, been providing temporary motel stays for individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities and special needs, especially in the worst weather.
While the search continues, Peterson said there’s a standing offer for transportation to other shelters in the county to anyone who requests it. He said those interested in transportation should call 888-634-9992 or let a day manager at the Community Resource Center know of the desire to go to Bethany or Georgetown. For a list of homeless shelters throughout Sussex County, call Code Purple Sussex County at 302-519-0024.