The community and organizations in Delaware constantly search for new ways to help the local homeless population. Being displaced from your home creates many difficulties in any community. There is a never-ending need for basic resources like food, clothing and shelter.
Beside churches and faith-based groups, other organizations pitching in include the Delaware Community Center YMCA, Common Ground Free Store, the local librarians and the City Council.
The YMCA provides some basic needs for homeless people here and across the country. The Delaware County YMCA opens its doors when temperatures plunge below zero in order to provide some emergency relief. Although they can provide help on freezing nights, many homeless people still live on the streets for the majority of the winter, even if temperatures are only slightly above zero.
The Y is 7 miles away from the city of Delaware, which provides another challenge for homeless people without transportation. The majority of the homeless population is concentrated in Delaware City. While the Y is a fantastic resource it is over an hour walk with no sidewalks for most of the way.
In 2014, the Y started opening its doors offering shelter to the homeless in freezing weather for three nights, but no one showed up until the last night, in part due to the difficulty in spreading the word.
The Common Ground Free Store provides free clothes and a meal for the homeless. People can choose up to five clothing items and receive a hot meal from the store. Many low-income people and homeless people rely on the Common Ground Free store for warm clothes in the winter. They can get shoes, gloves, coats, and other basic needs for free.
The Delaware City Library is one of the best resources for the homeless men of Delaware. Librarians often allow them to stay in the library during the day even, if they are just sleeping.
While many libraries across the county prohibit large backpacks and sleeping inside, Delaware’s library has no such restrictions. The homeless can and do use the computers, check out books and can catch a few winks to get stay out of the cold.
The librarians have been able to develop personal relationships with the homeless men that utilize library resources. They have permitted these couple of men to leave some of their belongings in librarian’s offices.
“It starts to hurt your back after awhile carrying everything you own on your back,” said Steven Carl and Jon Hornbeck local homeless men.
Amanda Hennings and Marty Manee, two of the librarians helping out, went to a City Council meeting on Dec. 22, 2014, to bring the community’s homeless situation to the attention of the local lawmakers. Many other organizations teamed up with them to raise awareness of the issue to City Council.
Amanda Hennings, a librarian at the Delaware City Library, started a petition to create an emergency shelter for homeless men. She needed 10 percent of community members to sign it to start the process for an emergency men’s homeless shelter in Delaware.
As a result of citizens bringing the issue of homelessness to light, City Council formed a committee to find a solution. The committee last met on March 31 to further discuss solutions . The committee consists of organizations including:
- Salvation Army
- City Council members
- Delaware fire chief
- United Way
These are not the only organizations, but they are all working together to find a solution for emergency relief on bitter cold nights.
This video tells the story of a homeless veteran, getting help through Helpline.
As of spring 2015, the committee had not found a solution. its main goal was to create a warming shelter that will be available in extreme weather. Issues to resolve include:
- Facility costs
- Security measures and the cost of that
- Accessibility of the facility for homeless people without transportation
- What are the weather conditions for opening
The committee is still working to find a realistic solution for the problem that Delaware has, while the existing organizations will continue to provide what relief they can.