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Homelessness down in Delaware, up in Sussex County

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Housing Alliance Delaware
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Delaware is reporting a dip in homelessness statewide but an increase in homelessness for Sussex County.

Housing Alliance Delaware conducted its point in time count in January during the coldest night of winter. Volunteers counted 921 people statewide unsheltered or in temporary housing. That’s a 15 percent decrease from last year, but the count was up 40 percent in Sussex County to 181.

Alliance Delaware Executive Director Tina Showalter says the higher Sussex count could speak to affordable housing issues in the county, or, she says, it could just be the result of having more volunteers for this year’s count.

“For the first time we sent teams to all emergency rooms. We sent teams to day centers the next day where people who are homeless are known to congregate and come for services,” said Showalter.

This year’s point in time count saw a three percent increase in the number of homeless children in Delaware.

“We can’t speculate as to why that was,” said Showalter. “We have broken down [the data] and will be released for publication by county. So, we don’t know where that uptick came from—it might’ve been equal across the three counties. There are policy planners and professionals speculating about opioid addiction. Again, we will go back to the affordability of rental housing.”

This year about three quarters of Delaware’s homeless said they had been evicted in the past 12 months.

Showalter says her agency is working with the Delaware Center for Justice and the ACLU to draft legislation reforming Delaware’s landlord-tenant code for next year.

This year’s data shows homelessness in Delaware continues to disproportionately affect African Americans and most of the state’s homeless are in New Castle County.

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