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Emergency shelter beds statewide remain stable as permanent supportive housing takes hit

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
The Hospitality Center shelter opened last year at Family Promise of Northern New Castle County, which runs programs including Shelter Diversion, Rapid Rehousing and a Rotational Hospitality Network.

Despite an upcoming loss of beds for the chronically homeless in Wilmington, a state homelessness expert says the number of emergency shelter beds remains relatively unchanged. 


The Central YMCA in Wilmington will lose roughly forty permanent supportive housing beds for the chronically homeless in May— after the organization did not reapply for federal funds distributed by the Delaware Continuum of Care. 

New Castle County Division of Community Development and Housing manager Carrie Casey heads that statewide collaboration addressing homelessness. She says although the YMCA is working with Housing Alliance Delaware to rehouse the men who will be displaced— or let them stay if they can pay rent— the loss of these beds is a challenge.

“The very worst-case scenario is them not having a place to go,” she said. “You have 211 people on a waiting list, and now we’re adding basically to that waiting list.”

According to Housing Alliance Delaware, there are roughly 850 permanent supportive housing beds in the state, which are reserved for people who meet the federal government’s definition for chronically homeless, many with mental or physical disabilities. “Permanent supportive housing is a long term housing intervention for those with the highest need,” said Casey.

But as temperatures drop, Casey says the number of emergency shelter beds remains relatively unchanged. Statewide, there are close to 700 of these temporary sleeping accommodations, including weather-related shelter and hotel vouchers. 

The number of people experiencing homelessness during Housing Alliance Delaware’s annual statewide count has hovered around 1,000 the past few years. That count does not include those in permanent supportive housing. 


Casey says there are never enough shelter beds in the state. The Continuum of Care will learn its federal funding allocation from HUD in the coming weeks.

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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