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Highlighting Homelessness 

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Homelessness in Delaware is described as a “well-kept secret” but the richest county in Ohio is no exception to this pressing matter the nation is facing. What does homelessness look like in a setting that is, for the most part, rural as opposed to urban?  Secret or not, it is a pervasive issue in the U.S., including Delaware.

Quick Facts

  • Of Ohio’s 88 counties, Delaware County is the wealthiest, healthiest, and fastest growing.
  • Ohio experienced its coldest weather in 30 years in 2013-2014.
  • The closest homeless shelter to the city of Delaware is 23 miles away in Marion, Ohio.
  • According to the National Coalition for the Homeless: the average life expectancy for someone who is homeless is 42-52 years (compared to 78 years in the general population).
  • According to the 2014 Point-in-Time count survey from the U.S. Department of Housing  and Urban Development (HUD), more than 578,000 people were homeless in the United States on a given night
  • In the U.S., 74 percent of homeless people do not know where it is safe or legal to sleep.
  • A typical hotel room in Delaware runs $70 a night but those housed by the Salvation Army pay $600 a month, the equivalent of $20 per night.
  • Between Women’s City Club, Family Promise, and individuals living on the street, it appears that at least 30 people that are homeless in Delaware, which does not include the transient population that continues to grow.
  • The Salvation Army still serves more households with children than we do singles, as a whole. Last year (2014) I know we served 47 households in Delaware County, probably about 22 of those were singles, the other 25 were families with children.


Homelessness has been around for centuries, but it was only in 1987 that the U.S. government officially recognized the homeless as a population and officially defined the word homeless as it is known today.

Homelessness looks different in different parts of the country. In Delaware County homelessness was a “well kept secret” until December of 2014, when the Delaware County librarians took the issue public, noting the significant homeless population and the lack of a shelter.

Each year the federal government requires each county does a count of the homeless population.  Members of the community look for homeless people and hold soup kitchens in an effort to get a number on the homeless population.  In 2015, those numbers were in dispute and were being withheld by HUD, which manages this requirement.

Ted Williams, known as the “Golden Voice” became the national face of the homeless in 2011 after The Columbus Dispatch coaxed him into demonstrating his powerful voice for a video as he panhandled at a freeway on ramp. Here Williams talks about the homeless situation in America today.


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