Wilmington homeless shelter to shut down

WILMINGTON, Del. (WPVI) -- Following months of financial uncertainty, a warm, safe haven for Delaware homeless men and women will close its doors in just a few weeks.

Officials are trying to find a place to house those in need before the weather turns potentially deadly.

"That's the predicament we are in now, we are trying to keep our emergency shelter open," said SafeSpace Delaware Chairman Allen Jones.

SafeSpace Delaware in Wilmington has been using state funds for drug abuse and mental health to fund an overnight homeless shelter.

SafeSpace thought it had an informal OK to do so, but the state says that's not the case. Funding is being cut and come January 1 the 65 beds will disappear.

The state says it has been working since July to get SafeSpace Clients into more long-term housing and treatment.

"That is our long-term vision for DCM, for our clients is to make sure they are able to get into a stable environment, not the ups and downs of a shelter environment," said Elizabeth Romero, of the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

With the loss of 65 emergency beds, the fear is some clients will return to the streets.

Christina Showalter, who oversees the agency that works to get people into proper housing, worries winter cold could take its toll.

"The most serious of which is the loss of human life," she said.

The prognosis for SafeSpace Delaware and its 65 beds is not good, but the Board Chairman seems doggedly determined.

"We have been telling them come hell or high water we hope to keep the lights on," he said.

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