Letter to the Editor: Dover Interfaith Mission not approved for rezoning is disappointing

Dover City Council has turned down a request by Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing (DIMH) to rezone a property on West Division Street that is near Interfaith’s current temporary home.

This is such a shame. The lack of compassion and understanding on this issue never ceases to amaze me.

The current Interfaith shelter on Forrest Avenue isn’t 100 yards away from this site! This shelter has never had or caused any problems in this area. The shelter has expectations of good behavior for those residing there, or they are not welcome. There might be some derelicts out there defecating or urinating on buildings nearby, but they aren’t the shelter residents!

I’m so disappointed in comments from some surrounding businesses. Did they provide examples of how the shelter that’s currently only a block or two from them is causing problems? The city needs to proactively help find the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing a home. The Downtown Dover Partnership is kicking them out, so they need to help find them a home. I never imagined our city could be so heartless and unChristian-like to be creating more homelessness in an already desperate situation.

I’m so disgusted and disappointed with some people. It’s obvious where their hearts are. A few years ago, they had the homeless issue put in their face month after month at public meetings. Maybe we just didn’t push hard enough. What is it going to take? Asking nice and trying to be a partner seems to be mistaken as weakness and lack of resolve. Maybe things need to be stirred up again, and this time “not our problem” and “not our job” must not be accepted as the answer.

Our mayor and council were tricky, putting together committees and task forces, yet to what end? It made the community believe the mayor was on top of things. They were led to believe he was addressing the issue and looking for solutions. This would be called “smoke and mirrors.”

I was either on these committees or attended the meetings as a concerned citizen. Mostly nothing came of these four years of meetings, other than reopening 801 Division St. for women (a good thing). The plight of the homeless in the city of Dover was not affected one single, solitary bit.

This community has been led to believe there are efforts and interest in addressing this, but the truth is there seems to be no interest or motivation to do anything other than figure out how to make them all go away. Heads in the sand is what we are dealing with, and we as a community need to stand up and demand they do what they are paid to do.

If assuring there is enough safe, attainable and fiscally feasible housing available for everyone isn’t the elected city officials’ jobs, then whose job is it? The mayor seems to think it’s the job of the community, the citizens, the nonprofits, the churches — everyone and anyone other than his and the city’s. We have our role to play to partner and support on the issue, but they also have the role to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be safe and secure in housing and to coordinate efforts to that end. We must insist they do the job they were hired to do and are being paid to do!

If our mayor showed support and enthusiasm for finding housing solutions for our most vulnerable citizens, so would others. Instead of coming up with reason after reason why it can’t be done, it would be refreshing for the city leadership to put as much effort into showing how it can be done.

Sue Harris
Dover