Camp Hope moves homeless to indoors sheltering

Storms that swept through Salisbury last week damaged several tents that were housing homeless individuals at Camp Hope at Lake Street Park.

Last week’s storms and heavy winds damaged tents at Camp Hope, the Lake Street area where Salisbury officials were housing the homeless to limit exposure to the Coronavirus.

Mayor Jake Day and Housing and Homelessness Manager Christine Chestnutt announced that the Lower Shore Continuum of Care, through the Somerset County Health Department and the Seton Center, will place all residents of Camp Hope in hotel rooms, thus bringing an effective end to the relief effort at the city’s Lake Street Park. 

Active for about two weeks, Camp Hope was established to provide the community’s homeless population a way to safely stay-in-place and avoid the risk of contracting the Coronavirus. Last Wednesday and Thursday, high winds and heavy rain forced the temporary evacuation of the camp. Upon returning to the site, coordinators found tents had sustained severe damage – many of them rendered too broken to be repaired.

Discussions already under way with partner agencies, and focused on finding more sustainable housing options, took on added urgency as coordinators began to seek donations of new tents.  The effort was successful in short order.

“Due to the collaborations and partnerships developed within our Continuum of Care, the Somerset County Health Department and the Seton Center have graciously offered to place our guests into temporary hotel accommodations, and will offer more permanent housing options through rapid rehousing and other resources,” said Chestnutt.  “I’m so incredibly thankful for the partnerships we have with other agencies in and around our community.”

Established in 2016, Salisbury’s Housing First program is the first of its kind for a small- to medium-sized municipality in the nation.

Its purpose is to provide permanent housing solutions and wraparound case management to help citizens in need make the transition up, and out of homelessness.

“For our homeless population, there really was no viable way to shelter-in-place, and that’s what Camp Hope provided,” Day said.

“While it’s unfortunate that we had to see this outcome brought about by such drastic events, it is a wonderful outcome,” the mayor said.

Camp Hope was possible through the efforts of volunteers and generous donations of food.  While the camp’s new phase of operation will eliminate the need for volunteers, donations of food are still very needed.  If you or someone you know are interested in providing a meal for residents, please call Chestnutt at 443-397-2149.

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