Soup Kitchen Tries to Fill Shelter Gap - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Soup Kitchen Tries to Fill Shelter Gap

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - The Jusst Soup Ministry provides meals and shelter for homeless people in Rehoboth Beach, but is only open two days a week.

According to Reverend Dale Dunning, who runs the soup kitchen, there are very few places in the Lewes-Rehoboth area for homeless to go. There are no year-round permanent homeless shelters.

During the winter, many local churches open cold weather shelters, but close again in time for the warmer weather. Dunning said she thinks something needs to be done about this, but it doesn't seem like people in the area are interested. She makes nearly 1,000 quarts of soup a week, and can only serve it Monday's and Thursday's.

Dunning also provides sandwiches, coffee and snacks. And for those that need a place to rest their head, she has several cots in the basement of the church on Route 1 they call home.

"People need shelter year round, they need someplace to shower year round," Dunning said. "They need some place to settle down and call home year round just like we all do."

The homeless who frequent the soup kitchen agreed there are few other options for help. But they are grateful for Dunning and her volunteers.

"It's our only haven, it's the only place we can go and relax to eat and have a cup of coffee and a nourishing meal and chat with friends and get cool," John Martin said. "There's really no [other] place, Rehoboth Beach doesn't want homeless people, now five years ago when I was making $60,000 a year, they'd be putting out the red carpet for me."

This past Spring, a homeless neighborhood known as "Tent City" resided in the forest behind the soup kitchen. However, it was discovered that people living in the tents there violated a county zoning code and they were asked to leave. That left a big gap in places where Rehoboth Beach's homeless people lived.

According to the Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson however, any organization can apply for a special use exception and go through a public hearing process to build a permanent shelter.

"I went back and looked and we don't have any organization applying on the Eastern side of the county," he explained. "Lewes and Rehoboth area specifically."

Dunning said she would like someone to help her build a permanent location, but acknowledged it could cost a lot.

"It's going to take quite a bit of money to do it," she said. "There's always that and then sometimes I really and truly don't think that it's wanted here."

In the meantime, Reverend Dunning said she will continue doing what she can.

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