Update: West Rehoboth Homeless Shelter Vote Tabled - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Update: West Rehoboth Homeless Shelter Vote Tabled

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The homeless shelter is proposed for the intersection of Burton Avenue and Hebron Road (Photo: WBOC) The homeless shelter is proposed for the intersection of Burton Avenue and Hebron Road (Photo: WBOC)

GEORGETOWN, Del. - The Sussex County Board of Adjustment Meeting on Monday night tabled tabled a decision regarding a controversial application to turn a West Rehoboth business into a homeless shelter.

Immanuel Shelter is proposing the shelter for the intersection of Burton Avenue and Hebron Road. In order to establish the permanent shelter, which would house about 20 people at a time, the applicant must receive a special use exception from the Board of Adjustment first. In response to the application, dozens of community members voiced their opposition.

"We are a community that is moving forward," said Janet Maull-Martin, from the West Side New Beginnings Youth Center. "And we are also a vulnerable community at this point and time. And so... to drop in a shelter here is just not the right thing to do." 

WSNB has been vocally against the plan from the beginning, due to the close proximity between the youth center and the proposed shelter. The two buildings are separated by approximately 150 feet, according to Maull-Martin. 

But Immanuel Shelter's President Janet Idema said that need is great in eastern Sussex. They are currently housing their homeless part-time at the Faith United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Oyster House Road. But she said there is a need for a permanent shelter, like is proposed for the West Rehoboth site.

The shelter had been looking for a permanent structure since January, and toured the Hebron Road location for the first time in late-August. 

"There's a growing need," she said. "Particularly amongst women which is a population that is increasing. More people who just can't make it on basic salaries." 

Idema said that neighbors shouldn't worry. 

"I think it's fear-based," she said of the opposition. "Concerns that property values will be effected. That children in the area won't be safe. But there's really nothing to substantiate that. (It would) actually take people who are outside already and put them into a safe environment." 

But Maull-Martin said that the close proximity to the large number of children is troubling. 

"There has to be another place," she said. "Where they can put a homeless shelter. Rather than being so close to a youth center." 

If approved, Immanuel hopes to have the shelter up and running by December. However, so many people turned out to speak at Monday night's Board of Adjustment meeting that the board decided to table the vote on the issue. 

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