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Opening of Code Purple shelter at former DSP Troop 7 barrack delayed

Code Purple shelter at former DSP Troop 7 barrack
Mary Jo Verdery
Code Purple shelter at former DSP Troop 7 barrack

A main Sussex County Code Purple shelter is facing obstacles in opening this year.

The Code Purple winter homeless shelter at the former Delaware State Police Troop 7 building in Lewes was scheduled to open Wednesday night, December 1.

Nikki Gonzalez is the executive director of Code Purple Sussex County.

She explains why the shelter didn’t open.

“Because for one, we don’t have the contract yet," Gonzalez said. "And honestly, the contract says a different day than December 1. They (The State) still didn’t meet until the (November) 29th - just a few days ago - to sign the contract. And then you add on the fact that we don’t have any volunteers yet.”

Gonzalez notes that staffing is also an issue. The shelter received coronavirus emergency funding last year to help pay for staff, but that funding is no longer available and finding volunteers has been extremely difficult.

“The bare bones - I need overnight volunteers. I need at least one person every night to stay the night," said Gonzalez. "But a really easy way is - let’s say I was a volunteer and I said okay, I’m going to take every Monday and then the second person says okay I’m going to take every Tuesday. You only have to stay 15 times if you do that. So that’s one night a week out of your week.”

Gonzalez says the shelter at the former Troop 7 building is now expected to open December 13.

All six shelters in Sussex are open 7 days a week through March 15, 2022, regardless of the outdoor temperature. Each has a maximum of 14 beds.

Two Kent County Code Purple shelters in Dover - at the People’s Community Center for men and another on Division Street for women and children - opened Wednesday, Dec. 1 and will be available through April 1, 2022.

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