Category Archives: Blog

Will You Join Us in Fighting Back?

Once a year, the same night every year, the Housing Alliance of Delaware (HAD) counts every person they can who is experiencing houselessness statewide. This is called the PIT Count (point in time). In order to get as complete a count as possible, HAD works with shelters, agencies and organizations statewide. Hundreds of volunteers over the course of weeks help to gather information to try and secure an accurate count. It is an impressive undertaking. 

We use this data point to assess how we as a state are doing in managing houselessness in Delaware. This specifically measures unhoused folks – which is why I use the word houselessness. 

HAD has released the 2022 PIT count. Not surprisingly, the number of those experiencing houselessness has more than doubled since the January 2020 count. COVID-19 has taken so much from so many people – the collateral damage alone is heartbreaking, let alone the lives lost. Our community has suffered so much pain. Fortunately, fewer lives are being lost to COVID-19, largely due to the vaccinations. But lives are still being lost. Fortunately, more people are maintaining employment and evictions have not drastically increased. But people are still not able to earn enough income to stay above their monthly expenses. 

There are not enough housing options for people. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in Delaware only 34 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households (those who earn less than 30 percent of the area medium income), which is below the national average.

Add to this the cost of living – rental rates and housing costs are incredibly high. Milk, meat and gas costs are astronomical. Our community continues to suffer and the PIT count is an example of the collateral damage all around us.

We often use our Financial Assistance Program to gauge where our community is with financial health. Our Financial Assistance Program is direct financial aid to people who are about to lose their housing or it helps people make a leap back into housing. This program helps with unpaid utilities or rent. It also includes assistance for security deposit or first month’s rent. We use it to help people who have little to no income to pay off court fees, obtain their state ID or driver’s license, or certification for potential employment. It’s flexible and always available in the time of someone’s most desperate need. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, we spent more in this program than any prior year. We wrote it off as a one time thing because we had secured special grants to put people in hotels to weather the health crisis. We were wrong. In 2021, we spent almost the same as in 2020 but little to none of it was on hotel stays. It all switched to utility bills, and some rental assistance. We are halfway through 2022 and we are ahead of where we have been the past two years with financial assistance given out to our community. We have only been able to do this because of your help. You have provided incredible support to FH so we can support our community. 

Clearly, there is a lot of need in our community. Join us in not accepting this increase of need as a barrier, something to be fearful of, or something we can’t do anything about. With your help, we will continue to keep our Empowerment Centers open and inviting to all. We will continue to make sure the community has access to our Clothing Bank. And we will continue to ensure those in our Transitional Housing Program maximize their resources to graduate ready for self-sufficiency. With your help, though, we won’t stop there. The challenge is the need is outgrowing our programs. We recognize we need to expand our Empowerment Programming into Kent County. Sussex will be quick to follow. We are planning an expansion in our Transitional Housing program to meet the needs of those who are exiting incarceration and have nowhere to go. We are trying to double the space of our Clothing Bank. We are more than doubling our School Uniform Program to ensure we are helping with the cost of clothing for children. We are committed to ending the vicious cycle of debtor’s prison. And we will continue to advocate for what’s right. But we can only do these things with your help.

Our community needs you more than ever – we have to stop the collateral damage affecting so many. We hope you will join us in fighting back.

To view the HUD and NLIHC reports click the links below:

HUD Report: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59ca9d72268b96cb977e74fd/t/6282429bd806ef23da3ffa7c/1652703901307/2022_PIT+Report_w+attachments_FINAL.pdf

NLIHC Report: https://nlihc.org/gap/state/de

What Friendship House Has Done for Me

Let me start by saying I started my recovery journey in 2015. I came from New Jersey to the Salvation Army in Delaware. I had a chance to go through Friendship House in 2016 but chose a job in Virginia instead. I relapsed and came back to Delaware. I went through the Salvation Army again and then moved to Sojourners Place where again I relapsed. I went to Salvation Army for the third time and it was the charm.

I came to the Friendship House in May of 2021 and I wish I had done it back in 2016, but my counselor Paul wisely informed me that obviously I was not ready for it then. While here I have resolved issues with people I have hurt and have had a chance to sit and work on myself and life. For the first time I have money saved up so I can move forward and get my own place to live. I am very grateful for the time Friendship House has given me. I am proud to be the smile on the front of the Friendship House pamphlet and it lets me see there is a better way of living with the help & support of the people who work for Friendship House. Simply put, this program was a God send for me and an eye opener that I can be a functional member of society.

Marc Marcus Announces His Retirement

“It’s a ‘make something happen’ kind of day!” Friendship House employees’ often say, and Marc has taken this saying to heart. “I think every day at FH is an opportunity for our staff and our guests/clients to make something happen. That’s what we’re there for,” says Marc Marcus, our Assistant Executive Director. After changing lives and bettering the community for 30 years through his service at FH, it is with mixed emotions we announce Marc has decided to retire.

Marc initially served FH as a volunteer before entering onto our board for several years and was even elected as the Vice President after exhibiting tremendous commitment to our mission. When his term on the board ended Marc was offered a position on staff and soon after was named the Assistant Executive Director, a position he continues in today. Marc was, and continues to be, instrumental in FH’s operation, growth and fulfillment of our mission.

Part of Marc’s legacy is the expansion of our Code Purple program to the community. This program has always been a centerpiece to FH’s mission and Marc’s heart. “When it’s super cold out and you’re providing someone a place to stay who has nowhere else to go, it’s really moving to be involved with the impact,” Marc said. On Code Purple nights Marc would often drive around to assist those who were outside with nowhere to go and bring them to one of our Code Purple locations. He was always willing to help folks in need.

He touched the lives of more than just the folks we work with, but our staff and supporters as well. We are so grateful to have had Marc’s support for FH all these years. He is one of the most calm, compassionate, loving, caring, and thoughtful people we have had the pleasure of knowing. In reference to our mission, Marc said, “I just really love the FH philosophy, and how we treat the people we work with.”

While Marc has meant so much to us, FH has in turn touched Marc’s heart. “FH means a place where folks can come when they feel they have no other choices. We meet people where they are. We are not limited by parameters, we can stretch the limit and fill the gaps,” he said. “Being part of an organization that is a place for people to come when they feel they have nowhere to turn is extremely rewarding. I am so grateful and honored God gave me this option through FH.”

Marc has impacted FH in so many ways and will be missed as he enjoys his time in retirement. His superpower is his ability to see the incredible beauty of every person. Whether you are staff, client, or volunteer – Marc sees what you are capable of and doesn’t let you forget how amazing you are.

From all of us here at Friendship House, we wish him the very best and congratulate him on his retirement. Marc, we hope you never forget how amazing YOU are. Thank you for all you have done for FH!

Deidra’s Story

I was lost, but found out what it feels like to happily live without drugs or a drink.

My name is Deidra and I am 43 years old. I lived in Middletown, a very small town in Delaware. I grew up in a single parent household. Although I didn’t have everything I wanted, I had a good childhood and had everything that I needed. At age 15, I had my first child. I didn’t finish school and I started hanging around the “cool” kids. I began smoking weed, which was a big mistake.

Fast forward a few years later, my mother was involved in a terrible car accident. This turned my whole world upside down. She was left paralyzed from the chest down. When she passed a year later, I fell into a very deep depression. Along with smoking weed, I was now doing crack and drinking like there was no tomorrow. I can truthfully say that I was comfortable with how I was living and did not think I had a problem. I didn’t realize it then, but I was headed toward mass self-destruction.

I slowed down on the crack and began doing pills, any kind as long as I was high. When the pills stopped working, I picked the crack back up. I also started doing heroin and let me tell you, I didn’t do one without the other. My addiction became worse and I began to lose everything. I did anything and everything to get the drugs…steal, trick, beg, and borrow. This resulted in me going to jail for 18 months.

While in jail, I completed Key-Crest drug programs. You would have thought I learned my lesson, but I ended up relapsing. This time I ended up overdosing and had to be administered Narcan, not once, but four times. When this happened, I saw the light. I decided to go to rehab. I remember reading a phrase that said, “Change I must, or die I will”.

While in rehab I made the decision to look into Friendship House, and let me tell you…I am so happy I did. I love it. The staff is wonderful, kind, loving, trustworthy, and most of all, non-judgmental. They keep me on my toes! I am learning how to take care of responsibilities such as self-care, budgeting, saving money, doctors appointments, paying bills, and everyday living. I am living life on life’s terms and I am very grateful today!

Since being at FH, I have successfully completed an intensive outpatient program. I recently landed a job, was able to start budgeting, and am saving towards my own place. I also have plans to finish my GED. My future is bright and I am on the right track!

Hope Center and Beyond

FH is exiting the NCC Hope Center as their Social Service Anchor. We planned to manage client services there temporarily through March 2021. As COVID-19 continued to limit resources, we agreed to stay for the remainder of the year. We are grateful to always be connected with the Hope Center, serving more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in its first year. As we exit the Hope Center, we are witnessing the many needs throughout our county and state and will do what we do best: fill the gaps in services for those experiencing homelessness and houselessness. From expanding our Clothing Bank’s School Uniform program to meeting the needs of a variety of residents in our Transitional Housing program to focusing on the growing needs of an increasing population of unsheltered people through our Empowerment Centers and Financial Assistance program – the need is everywhere. We are looking forward to refocusing our energy and resources on our core programming to be the best version of ourselves as we can, helping people with love and support. Thank you for all you do to make these things possible. We are forever grateful.

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