DelDOT's Removal of Homeless Under Bridge Angers Some - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DelDOT's Removal of Homeless Under Bridge Angers Some

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The area under the bridge where some of the displaced homeless people lived. (Photo: WBOC) The area under the bridge where some of the displaced homeless people lived. (Photo: WBOC)
The Douglas L. Harris Bridge is on Route 13 and crosses the St. Jones River in Dover. (Photo: WBOC) The Douglas L. Harris Bridge is on Route 13 and crosses the St. Jones River in Dover. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- Local homeless advocates are angry over what they allege is a displacement of homeless people by the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Cathy Kopera has worked with the homeless community in Dover for years, and she calls herself their mother hen. She says the event happened at night almost two weeks ago under the Route 13 bridge that crosses the St. Jones River in Dover.

There were about 20 people who lived under the bridge, and DelDOT workers allegedly displaced them and took their belongings that were left behind, according to Kopera. She says many were not there at the time, because DelDOT did not give them any type of notice.

"They left their important papers, their legal papers, their birth certificates," she said. "They left them in a secured area that they thought was secured. Little did they ever [think] that somebody was going to come in and just clear them out."

She says not just papers were taken but medication and IDs which were necessary for some of the homeless men to work at the NASCAR races. They did not have that opportunity this year because their things were taken, according to Kopera.

DelDOT tells WBOC it is conducting an internal review to figure out exactly what happened.

Pastor Amy Yarnall of Wesley United Methodist Church is working with Kopera to get people out of places like under that bridge. She says they are planning to build an affordable, tiny home community on the outskirts of Dover.

"This would be a grouping of small houses that would create longer-term solutions," she told WBOC. "Because we really do have a shortage of shelter space not only in this area but throughout the state."

Kopera says the key to solving the homeless problem is just that, a key. She says if you give a homeless person the opportunity to have a home, to have something of their own, it will begin to solve the problem.

She says Pastor Yarnall stepped in the Friday after this incident took place and asked her to gather most of the people who were displaced. Yarnall had called the ACLU, and they took interest. The ACLU agreed to represent the people who were displaced and allegedly had their belongings taken.

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