From the Field: Housing Alliance Delaware Celebrates Merger, Issues Housing and Homelessness Report

Housing advocates and local elected officials celebrated the creation of Housing Alliance Delaware this month in Dover, DE. The Alliance, an NLIHC state partner, was established in June through the merger of the state’s two leading housing advocacy groups, Delaware Housing Coalition and the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware. The celebration on October 6 featured the release of the Alliance’s report, The State of Housing and Homelessness in the First State - a combination of Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware? and the state’s annual homelessness Point-in-Time Count, the two signature publications of the Alliance’s original organizations.

Housing Alliance Delaware Executive Director Tina Showalter welcomed advocates, service providers, and many members of the Dover City Council and the State Senate. She provided background about the merger, the result of many months of work by the boards of both organizations. Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, spoke about the ongoing need for affordable housing in Delaware for people experiencing homelessness and low and moderate income residents who struggle to pay rent. Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long described affordable housing as a foundation for healthy homes and communities. James Peffley, president of the Delaware Housing Alliance’s Board of Directors, introduced The State of Housing and Homelessness in the First State.

The Alliance’s The State of Housing and Homelessness in the First State report provides a comprehensive analysis of Delaware’s housing challenges. The report notes that 1,015 people were homeless on the night of the January 2017 (point-in-time) count, a slight decrease from the previous year. Data are broken down by race, gender, and age, and demonstrate where people experiencing homelessness were sleeping: in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, and on the street. The State of Housing and Homelessness in the First State also celebrates the work of housing advocates to help functionally end veteran homelessness in Delaware, while calling for continued efforts to make homelessness “rare, brief, and non-recurring.” Coupled with the Point-in-Time Count is the Alliance’s Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware?, which the Delaware Housing Coalition has published for many years. Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware employs NLIHC’s Out of Reach data showing the housing wage in each of Delaware’s three counties and reporting the rates of housing cost-burdens throughout the state. The report also highlights the housing challenges faced by individuals living on the monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI), comparing SSI benefits to the state housing wage.

By combining the Point-in-Time Count and Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware?, Housing Alliance Delaware demonstrates the burden the shortage of affordable homes places on the state’s lowest income residents, resulting in widespread homelessness.

“The union of the Delaware Housing Coalition and the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware allows us to strengthen our common mission of ending homelessness, advancing housing opportunities, and promoting vibrant communities throughout the First State,” said Alliance Executive Director Tina Showalter. “Our publication of The State of Housing and Homelessness in the First State is a vital step towards raising awareness of the growing affordability crisis in Delaware, and we look forward to continuing to partner with advocates to achieve solutions.”

For more information, contact Housing Alliance Delaware Executive Director Tina Showalter at: tshowalter@housingalliancede.org