January 14, 2020
Jeanine Kleimo, Chair of the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing (DIMH), recently addressed the Dover Colonial Rotary Club. Her presentation was threefold; a brief history of her organization, the challenges it has encountered, and its plans for the future.
DIMH began operating its shelter program for homeless men on December 1, 2008, moving from one church facility to another. In September 2009, it opened its own facility, which housed 34 men at a time. To date, approximately 3,000 homeless men have benefited by being sheltered and assisted by DIMH. In addition to shelter, 12,000 to 15,000 meals have been served. Mrs. Kleimo was also happy to report that to date, more than 60% of the shelter residents were able to secure employment and housing before leaving the shelter.
Individuals are admitted to the DIMH shelter for a 30 day period. These men are expected to provide documentation of their identity and situation so as to be able to apply for government benefits. Case managers assist in these tasks and may grant an extension of the original 30 day residency period if circumstances warrant it. Case managers also focus on enabling residents to obtain employment and housing, as well as helping them to meet other needs related to long-term stability. Each manager’s caseload consists of about 120 men. In January 2015, a daytime resource center opened, which provides access to mail, showers, laundry, and other similar needs. About 400 to 500 individuals currently utilize the center.
Things like poor credit and a previous incarceration record can make finding affordable housing very difficult. Consequently, DIMH now provides 58 affordable beds to assist those attempting to transition from a condition of homelessness to one of a stable domicile. A small rent fee is charged in order to cover the facility’s modest expenses. DIMH was also instrumental in the establishment of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, and as a result, the Central Delaware Housing Collaborative was established. The Collaborative now operates two houses for formerly-homeless women and will soon be opening a shelter for homeless single women, who constitute the most vulnerable subset of the adult homeless population. Mrs. Kleimo was appointed chair of that Task Force.
DIMH’s annual operating budget is approximately $350,000. Astonishingly, this relatively modest sum, in turn, produces $3.5 million in wages within the local economy. “This is a good rate of return,” Mrs. Kleimo stated proudly. She added that the existence of such a large impact on the local community would not be possible without the help of a large number of volunteers from all religious denominations and traditions within the area.