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Former State Police Troop building likely to become homeless shelter

Troop 7 in Lewes (Photo from Mary Jo Verdery)
A final decision is expected Wednesday on using the former Delaware State Police Troop 7 barracks in Lewes as a temporary shelter for the homeless.

It’s said that when one door closes, another opens. And that may be the case for the homeless in the Lewes, Rehoboth and Dewey Beach areas:

Last month, the Immanuel Shelter in Rehoboth Beach decided it would not open this season after about seven years of assisting men, women and children, leaving a void for homeless people in the Cape Region.


At the same time, State Police Troop 7 was moving to its new location.  

That prompted several legislators, including House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth), to look at the old Troop 7 facility as a shelter option.


“To me it’s just a’s such an easy decision to make," said Schwartzkopf. "Troop 7 is vacant; let’s use Troop 7.”     


Schwartzkopf is a member of the five-person State Surplus Committee, which is set to vote Wednesday to allow Love Inc. of Mid-Delmarva and its Code Purple Sussex County initiative to enter into a short-term lease agreement with the State for operation of the shelter at the old Troop 7 through March.


“We had a lot of hurdles; insurance hurdles...we had to make sure the State was held harmless. There was some rigid insurance things that we had to have in place. We’ve passed all those things," Schwartzkopf said. "This past week, Susan (Kent) from Love INC. and the fire marshal did a walk through of the building. And we got the approval from the fire marshal.”

Love Inc., is a Christian-based organizing agency that runs Code Purple Sussex County and will operate the new shelter when it opens.


Love INC director Susan Kent says the shelter will join its existing network of eight shelters in Sussex County. The shelters are open December 1st through March 15th and are located in Georgetown, Seaford, Bridgeville, Milford, Laurel, Delmar and Bethany Beach.


Schwartzkopf notes other options, such as the cottages at Cape Henlopen State Park, were also considered, but some of those facilities are not heated and so they are not suitable for sheltering the homeless.


Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.