Code Purple shelters for homeless open as frigid temperatures persist


With low temperatures in the teens or single digits through much of next week, Code Purple shelters are opening in all three counties for individuals who are homeless and in need of a place of refuge.

Often organized and staffed by volunteers, Code Purple sites in Delaware typically are located at houses of worship and community shelters. The sites provide safe, warm and short-term housing and hot meals to individuals and families who are homeless. The activation of Code Purple varies, with decisions sometimes made day-by-day. Shelters typically are opened when winter-weather conditions – low temperatures, low wind chills, strong winds or heavy snow – make it difficult for anyone to be outside for extended periods. Being outside during extreme cold brings the risk of frostbite or hypothermia for anyone who does not take proper precautions. During the coldest periods of the weekend, prolonged exposure could result in frostbite in less than 30 minutes.

“This cold weather is dangerous, so I urge anyone without a place to sleep to find the nearest overnight Code Purple shelter,” Gov.  John Carney said. “I am grateful to the organizations and volunteers who staff and run the shelters across our state. And I appreciate their compassionate and welcoming spirit on behalf of their neighbors in need.”

Since most Code Purple sites use volunteers to manage operations, the activation and implementation vary by county and site. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at and click on the Code Purple button. Or call the Delaware Housing Alliance’s Centralized Intake Line at 302-654-0126, ext. 112.

“During these dangerously cold nights, we are grateful that Code Purple volunteers across our state are there to provide a warm place to stay, a hearty meal and a welcoming hand to people in need,” Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker said. “If you see anyone without a place to go this weekend or at any time during the winter, we urge you to refer them to the nearest Code Purple location or to Delaware 2-1-1 to be connected to services.”

Details about the shelters, which are organized and operated by nonprofit organizations or volunteers, include:


Wilmington and Newark:  The lead agency for Code Purple in New Castle County is Friendship House, which operates two Code Purple winter sanctuary programs – one in Wilmington and the other in Newark through the Newark Empowerment Center. The Wilmington program is operated in collaboration with the Salvation Army. Beside the Friendship/Salvation Army winter sanctuary program, the Sunday Breakfast Mission and the Rick VanStory Resource Center offer overnight shelter to both men and women.

The Salvation Army has extended Code Purple for tonight through the night of Jan. 1:
• Salvation Army building, 400 N. Orange St. Those who seek overnight housing will receive a hot snack, continental breakfast and a shower.
• Newark Empowerment Center connects people with overnight stays at a rotating group of churches when Code Purple is declared in Wilmington. To register and receive location, call 302-544-0165.

Code Purple has been declared through Jan. 6. Sanctuaries opening Friday evening:

• Centennial United Methodist Church, 44 E. Mount Vernon St., Smyrna. 5 p.m.
• People’s Church of Dover, 46 S. Bradford St., Dover. 5 p.m.

• Christ Church, 523 S. State St., Dover. 5 p.m.
• Milford Community Center, 105 NE Front St. 5 p.m.

For information about future locations, call the hotline at 1-800-733-6816.


Code Purple is declared when temperatures fall below 32 degrees. Sanctuaries throughout the weekend and into next week:

  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 202 N. North St., Seaford (men only). Check-in at 8:30 p.m.
  •  Gateway Fellowship, 8011 Cannon Road, Bridgeville (women and children only). Check-in at 8:30 p.m.

For both sites, dinner is provided at 7 p.m. at the CROSS building, 703 E. King St., Seaford, with transportation to Gateway Fellowship afterward.

  • Avenue United Methodist Church, 20 N. Church St., Milford (men only). Check-in at 7 p.m.; meals provided on-site.
  • OPENING JAN. 1: Laurel Nazarene, 100 Walnut Drive, Laurel (men, with separate space for fathers with children). Check-in at 7 p.m. Dinner provided at the CROSS building, 703 E. King St., Seaford, with transportation to and from the CROSS to be provided.
  • Georgetown Presbyterian, 203 N. Bedford St., Georgetown. Call Pastor Mike at 302-344-1912 or leave a message at the church at 302-856-6842. The sanctuary is only open for extreme weather. People must call ahead about availability.
  • Immanuel Code Purple Shelter, 37439 Oyster House Road, Rehoboth Beach, open nightly until April 1 regardless of the temperature (serving men and women). 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily.For more information, call the hotline at 302-519-0024 or visit:


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