Dover efforts continue to house homeless veterans


DOVER — It’s one team, one fight.

Those were the words echoed by Shayla Handy and Allissia Jones.

They are two of the 24 military veterans who have been housed thus far through the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.

“I served in the Army for five years before I got hurt,” Ms. Handy said. “We were sleeping in cars and didn’t know half of the information that was out there. They really enlightened us and I”m thankful for everything they’ve done.”

The city celebrated the success of the first 100 days of the initiative Friday afternoon.

The initiative seeks to eliminate veteran homelessness by ensuring those who are homeless are able to be placed in permanent housing.

Dover’s approach to the challenge is three-pronged: Outreach, diversion and prevention.
Bill Farley, vice chairman of the Commission of Veterans Affairs, said the overall objective for Dover is to permanently house 50 veterans soon.

“We established intermediate goals to obtain the ultimate objective,” Mr. Farley said. “We wanted to house 22 veterans at a certain point. At the time it seemed like an extremely ambitious goal, but as of right now, we’ve exceeded it.”

The average age of the veterans is 45. Six female and 18 male veterans have been housed.

“It not only affects men,” Mr. Farley said, “20 percent of homeless veterans are women, many with children.”

Ms. Jones, who served five years in the Army, shared the same sentiment.

“There are a lot of women out on the street and there’s only one shelter for them in the city of Dover,” Ms. Handy said.

“We’re sleeping in cars and hotels. I just want to thank everyone who has been humbling and appreciative of our services that were willing to help us every day.”

The working group is comprised of representatives from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware, Dover Housing Authority, the Delaware Veterans Coalition and Interfaith Mission for Housing; all of which share the common goal of ending homelessness.

“This is an ongoing initiative that allows us to help those who have served our country,” Mayor Robin Christiansen said.

“There are no greater heroes more deserving than the men and women who defend our country. I am pleased to see our efforts paying off and am hopeful that this is just the beginning of greater things to come,” the mayor said.
DSHA and DHSS were tasked with developing the plan. On any given night 100 veterans in Delaware are homeless, officials estimate. In 2015 an estimated 280 veterans will experience homelessness in the First State.

“We didn’t know any of this information was out there,” Ms. Handy said.

“This really opened our eyes to make us want to do more. Nobody was telling us, but we plan on sharing this information and getting the word out there to help as many people as possible.”

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