Dover Eyes Ways to Better Help Homeless - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover Eyes Ways to Better Help Homeless

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Tasha Scott with the Shepherd Place receives a donation of coats from a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. (Nick Layman/WBOC) Tasha Scott with the Shepherd Place receives a donation of coats from a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus. (Nick Layman/WBOC)

DOVER, Del. -- The City of Dover will form a Blue Ribbon Commission to look at homelessness with the aim of identifying people who struggle with finding a place to live and promoting better coordination between government agencies and nonprofits.

Mayor Robin Christiansen said the panel would borrow upon the model used in the Mayor's Challenge to End Homelessness. The city was recognized at the White House for its help in housing 89 veterans and their families as part of the program.

Acknowledging that the city could do a better job at addressing homelessness, Christiansen said many public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders do a lot of "talking at each other" and need to embrace their individual strengths.

"I think it's very unconscionable that people point fingers at one another instead of joining hands to fight the issue," he said.

Tasha Scott, a case manager at the Shepherd Place in Dover, said coordinating with other nonprofits and the government can be difficult. She said many adults who come to the shelter, which serves homeless families and women, are able to find jobs but struggle to gain stable housing situations.

"Even once you find employment, you have to save money. You have to be able to afford where you're going, your security deposit, your first month's rent, and getting your utilities on," she said.

Rebecca Martin, executive director of Code Purple in Kent County, said her group frequently struggles with limits on how many people they can shelter.

Although the group only provides short-term shelter during dangerously cold temperatures, she said many of the homeless people who use their services are chronically unable to find housing. She said better coordination, especially with the city, is needed to reduce homelessness in the city.

"If we can't take care of our own people in an emergency situation, how in the world are we going to take care of the people 24/7 every day?" she said.

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