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Hope Center expects to expand intake soon

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media

Open for a week, the hotel turned emergency shelter in New Castle County is close to taking referrals from the centralized state intake system.

Since opening last Tuesday, the Hope Center, which is housed at the former Sheraton Hotel along I-95 in New Castle, has accepted 73 people as of Monday afternoon.

The plan all along is for the Hope Center to take referrals from the centralized state intake system.

Kim Eppehimer is executive director at Friendship House of Delaware, which is using the Hope Center as a hub for Code Purple shelter during cold weather. She says referrals should be starting soon.

"Right now, the criteria is that you're unsheltered, and that is something that again when the referral process starts which we hope will be any day now, that'll be the main criteria," said Eppenhimer. "People call 1-833-FIND-BED because they're unsheltered or they have unstable housing and through that process then they'll discern the best way to get access to shelter or to a bed. So that really is the criteria."

New Castle County Housing Management Analyst Nicole Waters adds the county is close to taking referrals from the state system.

"We're in the process of finalizing our inventory to be a part of the Delaware's homeless system. So, when people contact 1-833-FIND-BED for shelter. That's the centralized intake unit. They will determine if congregate shelter is a possible solution for them."

Waters notes that if for some reason the Hope Center is not the right place for someone mainly for health reasons or no shelter available, they will be referred to the Delaware State Service Center’s Motel/Hotel Voucher Program. 

New Castle County won the facility in an auction with a winning bid of $19.5 million. The county used money from the federal CARES Act to pay for the hotel turned shelter.


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