State social service agencies brace as motel voucher dollars run out

Hundreds of homeless Delawares have relied on motel vouchers provided by the State Service Centers Division over the past two years.

But American Rescue Plan Act funding for those vouchers is drying up, and the agency is looking for landing places for those still in motels.

Division Director Renee Beaman says those challenges are particularly acute in the southern half of the state. “We have almost 600 households or cases that we haven’t been able to transition into affordable or available housing, and particularly when we look at Sussex County,” she said. “Sussex County has our highest rate of homelessness.”

She adds that transitional housing and motel rooms themselves are also rare in Sussex County. And the division receives more than 100 new applications for motel vouchers each month, although not all applicants are eligible.

She adds that her team is working with the Delaware State Housing Authority, shelter providers and landlords to identify shelter space, affordable housing and rental assistance to move as many people out of motels as possible. “There are still resources that will help some people get three, six months, even a year’s rent,” she said. “There are some who help to get a security deposit. That’s our challenge.

The State Housing Authority and nonprofit housing providers are gearing up to use millions of dollars in new ARPA funding to develop or preserve affordable housing across the state.

This includes offering incentives to developers to renovate or replace vacant buildings as housing and build 40 new affordable rental homes for poultry workers in Sussex County – a community particularly affected by the crisis housing.

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