Senators Carper, Coons, Rep. Blunt Rochester celebrate innovative solutions combating homelessness at Georgetown Pallet Village

U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Director David Baker today for a ribbon-cutting at The Springboard Collaborative’s Pallet Village in Georgetown, an innovative solution combating homelessness,fostering health, and empowering new employment opportunities in Sussex County. The 40 low-cost cabins provide dignified shelter in low-income areas hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Springboard is also celebrating $2.4 million in American Rescue Plan funding, a portion of which will be used to assist village replication in other parts of Delaware in need.

A project that had been in the works for three years, the cabins – 64 square feet each and all recently painted vibrant colors in July thanks to community volunteers – provide transitional housing and allow for wraparound service providers to visit a single location, increasing impact and reach. Springboard and partners First State Community Action Agency (FSCAA), Healthy Communities Delaware, and other agencies are collectively helping our most vulnerable neighbors build new lives.

“When we were working on the American Rescue Plan, we knew that a major need back home in Delaware was safe housing,” said Senator Carper. “I am proud that we could help Springboard Collaborative provide housing and resources for those that need it the most in our communities. When I visited the pallet village months ago, I met with residents and learned so many are veterans, like myself. This village will provide a helping hand to so many in our community that have been struggling for too long.” 

“Housing – secure, stable, accessible housing – is the foundation upon which everything else is built,” said Senator Coons. “One of the most common sources of pain I’ve heard during my time working with those facing homelessness is the pain of feeling unseen, ignored, ‘less than.’ Efforts like this from The Springboard Collaborative and Co-Founders Jeff Ronald and Judson Malone shout from the hilltops, ‘We see you and are here working to help.’”

“Safe, affordable, reliable housing isn’t just about stability, it’s about dignity,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “Housing is foundational – from education to employment. The Springboard Collaborative’s efforts to create more available housing in Georgetown is exactly the action we need to help fill the affordable housing gap in Delaware. I’m proud to be one of the partners in helping make today’s ribbon-cutting come to fruition, and I know that the village’s impact will reverberate across the First State for years to come.”

“Springboard Collaborative’s projects will assist some of our most vulnerable neighbors – those dealing with lack of safe and affordable housing,” said Governor John Carney (D). “I want to thank The Springboard Collaborative team for their commitment to our communities.”

“We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, especially our folks experiencing homelessness. They deserve compassion, a listening ear, and they deserve to be embraced and not live on the margins of society. The Springboard Pallet Village is an important step on a person’s journey to recovery and resilience. Thanks to The Springboard Collaborative, First State Community Action Agency, Town of Georgetown, Mayor [Bill] West and Council, and local leaders, individuals have transitional housing, a community, and a place to have basic needs met – a hot shower, counseling, and even services for a beloved pet,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long (D). “As we know through the work with Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium, we cannot address mental and behavioral health concerns without considering the full picture of a person’s situation. Where do they lay their head at night? Do they have employment, food? It’s about addressing the social determinants of health. When people have basic needs met, it helps individuals to stand strong and empowered and move on to the next phase of their journey in a safe, supported environment. This initiative does just that.” 

“USDA Rural Development is proud to assist this transitional housing village with a $722,300 grant towards the costs of food and meals over three years for residents here from the Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant program,” said David Baker, USDA Rural Development Director. “The outpouring of community support for this project reflects the concerns of so many to help our residents with a helping hand.”

“We can create a future where homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring.  More than a moral imperative, it also makes smart economic sense for our communities; it is who we are as Americans,” said Jeff Ronald, The Springboard Collaborative Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board. “No one should endure the inhumane conditions of unsheltered homelessness. This is a systems approach: a dignified dwelling, plus resources to cultivate better health, plusjob opportunities to advance. This is an innovative cross-agency collaboration – emulating proven models nationwide. Our vital demonstration project, with solid outcomes thus far at six months, needs state support to flourish.”

“It’s more than a safe place to call home; these villages empower people with new educational and job training opportunities to achieve self-reliance and pursue their full potential,” said Judson Malone, The Springboard Collaborative Co-Founder and Executive Director. “The cost of ignoring homelessness is far, far greater; we can cultivate a lasting end to homelessness, statewide, starting in Sussex County and with state support.”

“A dignified dwelling plus wraparound services empowers disadvantaged Delawareans to stabilize, rebuild, and strive to lead successful lives,” said Bernice Edwards, FSCAA Executive Director. “The partnership between [FSCAA] and Springboard is a model for other community action agencies across the country. We envision a more equitable society that provides all vulnerable Delawareans the resources to attain their full potential.”

“One of my top priorities as a state legislator has been to continue working with our federal, state, and community partners in providing housing for our homeless population,” said State Representative Ruth Briggs King (R), who represents the area in which Springboard is located. “A safe shelter is a basic human right and what we’re doing today will go a long way toward helping members of our homeless community with the necessary services they need in order to have a more stable future.”