The Springboard Collaborative, Inc
Providing transitional housing and assistance for those working their way out of homelessness.
Consider: for every 100 very low-income renters in Delaware, there are only 24 attainable living units in the state. And family homelessness is the primary driver of a substantial increase in Delaware's unhoused population. Over the past two years, 58% of the additional homeless were children. Our own Cape Henlopen School District reported 104 homeless children and the actual number is certainly higher. This is a growing crisis that calls for a compassionate response from the community for the welfare of all.
Conley's Church is well aware that our community is not immune to this problem. Over the years we have supported the Code Purple shelter with funds and by opening our facilities to serve as a week-end shelter, we have allowed homeless individuals to temporarily park in our lot, and we have regularly encountered the homeless in the woods just yards from our property. Our food ministries and Social Concerns Team strive to provide assistance to the best extent that our resources allow. Now, The Springboard Collaborative (TSC) has presented our congregation with an exciting opportunity to do more to make a tangible difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community.
TSC is a non-profit organization that provides rapidly-deployable interim shelters: an easily scalable, safe, warm, respectful solution for those striving to work their way out of homelessness. Conley's Church has property that is in many ways conducive to such a project, and TSC has asked the church if we would be willing to consider a proposal to host such a site specifically for families in need. Of course, we would. Helping those in need is not an incidental part of our faith: it is central to our call as followers of Jesus, it is an integral part of the mission of the Church, it is an essential act of Christian worship.
At what stage is this project?
The project is in the exploratory stage. There are many challenges that must be addressed before a detailed site plan can be developed. At this point, Conley's Church is waiting for TSC to present a formal, detailed proposal for the church's consideration.
What is TSC currently doing to develop a proposal?
TSC is currently working to determine the feasibility of such a project at our site. This includes determining how water and electric will be provided, how security will be provided, how counseling and job search assistance will be provided, and much more.
Has TSC provided any details as to what is involved in determining feasibility?
Yes, throughout the process, TSC has developed "operational models" based on previous projects and tailored to our context. The latest model may be viewed here. This model is not the actual plan that will be presented to Conley's Church - it is the latest model in a feasibility study that remains a work in progress.
What happens if TSC determines that this is a feasible project?
If the project is determined to be feasible, TSC will develop a formal proposal including a detailed site plan to present to Conley's Church.
What happens if/when TSC presents a proposal to Conley's Church?
Conley's Church Council and congregation will prayerfully consider if the concerns of both the church and our surrounding community have been adequately addressed, and determine if the church will approve and participate in the project.
If Conley's decides to accept TSC's proposal, where will the shelters be located?
The proposed project will be located in the tree-lined "park" area behind our church building (where the Living Nativity was held in years past).
Who will be living in the shelters?
The tenants will be families in need (that is: a couple with 1-2 children, or a single adult with 1-3 children).
How long will tenants live in the shelters?
The shelters are transitional housing designed to provide safe and secure lodging while tenants seek a more permanent home. Similar projects report that tenants typically stay 6-8 months.
As we wait, we encourage our congregation to be in prayer for God's provision and guidance in this matter. And we call on everyone to avoid the misleading gossip, knee-jerk reactions, and selfish negativity that invariably surround this type of endeavor. Conley's Church is thankful for the support and constructive questions and concerns that are being expressed. Housing insecurity is a persistent but solvable problem. Let's be part of the solution.