Emergency Homeless Encampment Relocated After Storm

SALISBURY – Guests of an emergency homeless encampment were relocated indoors earlier this month after a late April storm destroyed the Lake Street site.

Last month, the City of Salisbury – in partnership with several agencies – opened Camp Hope, an emergency encampment for homeless individuals over the age of 18 during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For less than two weeks, the site provided the community’s homeless population a way to safely stay in place and avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19. Located at the Lake Street Playground, the camp included tents, cots, sleeping bags, bathrooms and other temporary accommodations.

On May 1, however, officials announced Camp Hope guests would be relocated after a late April storm destroyed the campsite.

“As most of you know, yesterday’s storm destroyed the tents at Camp Hope,” Housing and Homelessness Manager Christine Chestnutt said. “We placed our guests indoors overnight so they didn’t have to be out in the weather. Due to the collaborations and partnerships developed within our Continuum of Care, the Somerset County Health Department and Seton Center have graciously offered to place our guest into temporary hotel rooms and will offer more permanent housing options through rapid rehousing and other resources.”

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day praised the community partners for their support.

“For our homeless population, there really was no viable way to shelter-in-place, and that’s what Camp Hope provided,” he said. “While it’s unfortunate that we had to see this outcome brought about by such drastic events, it is a wonderful outcome. I couldn’t be more proud of Christine Chestnutt, and our partners at the Somerset Health Department and Seton House for this rapid, resourceful, and heartfelt response to a situation which had the potential to be so dire.”

By and large, Camp Hope used community donations and meal deliveries to provide for its guests and volunteers to man the encampment. Volunteers will no longer be needed, but camp organizers will continue to need food through May 15. After that time, guests will be placed in housing or shelters.

“We will still need meals,” Chestnutt said in a statement. “We are still looking for breakfast items like juice, granola bars, pop tarts and fruit. No hot breakfasts going forward. We will still be looking for hot lunches and dinner. We are no longer at Lake Street.”

Those wishing to sign up for meal donations can do so by visiting the “Housing First Salisbury, Maryland” Facebook page, or by contacting Christine Chestnutt at 443-397-2149. All meals must be individually packed or wrapped.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.