Delaware is performing its annual Point in Time Count Wednesday night into early Thursday morning to track the state’s homeless population.
The count is required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Delaware’s tally of its homeless population comes as temperatures dip to single digits across the state and Code Purple shelters open in all three counties.
More than 130 people volunteered for this year’s count.
Housing Alliance Delaware Executive Director Tina Showalter says that’s more than twice as many as in some years. She says the extra bodies will help to get a more accurate count is Sussex County.
“Rural areas require a different methodology than urban areas and this year, with the assistance of Christiana Hospital, as well as technical assistance from the University of Delaware, we a hoping to a better, more accurate count in Sussex County,” said Showalter.
Showalter attributes part of Delaware’s homelessness problem to the state’s eviction rate being almost double the national rate. She is pushing for reforms in the state’s landlord-tenant code.
“I’ve asked colleagues doing this work the last time that the state of Delaware looked at the landlord-tenant code, and ways that we might be more in line with some of our neighbor states because our eviction rate is dramatically high,” she said.
At this time last year, there were 1,082 individuals and families statewide experiencing homelessness—227 were children and 51 were 62 years or older.
Those numbers have been fairly consistent in recent years with about two-thirds of Delaware’s homeless population in New Castle County.