The homeless in Delaware

Steven William Peuquet, University of Pennsylvania


Given evidence of a continuing and serious problem of homelessness in the United States, this dissertation investigates the size, characteristics and nature of the sheltered homelessness population in Delaware in order to assess whether Delaware is typical of the nation, and to analyze the planning strategies and public policies appropriate for Delaware. Point estimates of the number of sheltered homeless persons on specific dates in 1986 and 1995 reveal that the state's sheltered population grew by 146 percent over this nine year period. In addition, a 1995 survey of emergency shelter managers showed that two-thirds felt that the problem was getting "slightly worse" or "much worse." It was also found that the proportion of the state's general population estimated to be homeless is very similar to that found for other states and for the nation as a whole. The homeless in Delaware can be characterized as being very poor, disproportionately young and minority, not living in traditional households, and facing one or more serious problems like: lack of education and employment skills, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and a criminal record. Its is clear that the homeless in Delaware have a lot in common with the homeless population of the nation. After developing and applying a measure of the chronicity of homelessness, it was found that chronic homelessness is more likely for those older than 29, those with more children, females living alone, and especially those with mental health or substance abuse problems. Rather than policies to spur general economic growth, the real public policy opportunities to reduce homelessness must be well-targeted and preventative in nature, and include: (1) the adequate provision of social and health-related programs which curb the formation of female-headed households, school drop out, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and domestic violence, (2) programs which enhance peoples' economic situation through such things as education and job training, welfare, and enforcement of child support payments, and (3) the provision of housing subsidies and services when needed so that the actual outcome of homelessness does not occur irrespective of the issues and problems faced by individuals and families.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Peuquet, Steven William, "The homeless in Delaware" (1996). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9627985.