Delaware, the richest county in Ohio based on income per capita and one of the fastest-growing in the United States, is struggling to provide shelter for its homeless population.
As Delaware continues to grow, the cost of living is becoming more expensive. As it increases, even long-time residents of Delaware are struggling to pay their bills. This has led to an increase in homelessness and those in housing crisis in the area.
People who are doubled up or are transient couch surfers do not qualify as homeless, according to HUD’s standards. Translated, it means that on some days someone may have a roof over their heads, but they might be on the streets the next.
Only homeless single women, displaced families and those with mental disabilities are eligible for housing in Delaware. Single homeless men do not qualify.
Some believe a shelter is needed here, including Jessica Dickson, a resident of Family Promise. A shelter would benefit many because “there’s more homelessness than you know,” she said.
The growth and affluence of Delaware County makes it particularly difficult for people to find affordable housing.
For sure, Delaware housing costs are out of reach for anyone earning the minimum wage of $8.10 per hour. At that rate, someone would have to work more than 70 hours a week to afford an apartment or house in Delaware, according to Melinda Frey of The Salvation Army.
While the Salvation Army and other organizations work to help the homeless and low-income residents find a home, housing restrictions are abundant. Limitations can include children, mental illness or falling too far below the poverty line.
The homeless population of Delaware is less visible than the displaced people that are seen on the streets of larger communities. Many local homeless people find a place to temporarily crash and the few with cars use their vehicle for a shelter.
Each year, the federal government requires local communities to count the numbers of its homeless population. Known as the Point-in-Time count, people must be living on the streets or be in a place not meant for habitation, according to HUD.
The count can be uncertain at best. Many may not be on the streets the day of the count or they could be with a friend, making the numbers inaccurate. The goal of the count is to quantitatively calculate the needs of the homeless in Delaware. If there are homeless people here that can’t be found – for instance they went to the Marion shelter on the day of the count – then Delaware loses much-needed funding that could be used to help the cause.