Millions in American Rescue Plan Act money will fund a wide variety of programs designed to help Delawareans stay in their homes, get into a home or find a rental that’s affordable.
To do that, the initiatives announced in recent days will:
- Help buy and rehab vacant homes in Delaware neighborhoods.
- Provide extra money to those building multi-family rental properties so rentals are affordable for those with low incomes.
- Offset the costs of construction of rental properties with the condition that a specific number of properties be rented to those with low incomes.
- Pay existing properties to remain available to low-income families.
- Help those who got behind because of COVID-19 catch up on mortgages and other house expenses.
“We are investing in affordable housing development across our state so that more Delaware families have access to safe, affordable housing,” said Gov. John Carney in a Thursday press release. “We are using ARPA funds to make sure these affordable housing construction projects get through the finish line, support more Delawareans in becoming homeowners, and revitalize communities that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The programs largely will be overseen by the Delaware State Housing Authority through 2026.
Delaware’s lack of affordable housing has been a constant worry for a decade, both in metro areas where swank units are out of general reach and in Sussex County where a building boom is luring well-off retirees but leaving workers on the street.
The Catalyst Fund
Expected to launch this fall, the Catalyst Fund is designed to create and preserve affordable homeownership by buying, replacing and rehabbing vacant or blighted homes. The fund will be administered with Cinnaire, a certified Community Development Financial Institution that handles lending for construction.
Under the plan, for-profit or nonprofit developers will receive ARPA funding as part of their new construction project financing to keep rents down.
The Market Pressure Relief Fund
Expected launch this summer, it is designed to relieve cost pressures on Delaware’s affordable housing development community. It will give money to owners of affordable multifamily rental projects now under construction but facing costs increases because of supply chain disruptions and inflation.
The Accelerator Fund
Expected to launch by fall, it will offer incentives to developers who are planning market-rate rental programs to guarantee affordable rental units are included in new or renovated properties. The developer will receive an upfront payment to offset construction costs if the developer commits to an affordable monthly rent for a specified number of units that otherwise would be market-rate.
The program also will provide additional bucks for traditional affordable rental developers who qualify for the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
The Preservation Fund
Expected to launch in spring 2023, this program will offer incentives to keep 1,000 existing affordable rental units at those rents rather than convert to market rate.
How they’ll do it
The Housing Authority and partners will host public meetings to gather feedback from the community and stakeholders to ensure that the programs are designed to meet the goal of increasing the availability of affordable housing.
The first meeting, during the week of July 25, will focus on the Catalyst Fund.
“DSHA is committed to stewarding these funds efficiently and transparently,” said Eugene Young Jr., director of the Housing Authority. “With these historic investments, our state is firmly positioned to meet the critical needs of Delawareans across the state. Whether you’re looking to rent, buy, or develop, we look forward to working in partnership with you to make Delaware a better place to live.”
All 3 counties get money
The state also announced more than $28 million in Rescue Plan-funded housing initiatives to help improve current properties through rehabilitation, expand homeownership opportunities, and buy property for additional affordable housing development.
Here’s what each county will get and the agency that will spend it.
Sussex County – $9.9 million
- NCALL Land Bank – $4 million to purchase property in Sussex and Kent counties for future affordable housing development.
- NCALL – $2.9 million to leverage $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the development of 40 affordable rental housing units for poultry industry workers.
- Sussex Habitat for Humanity – $3 million to assist with Kimmeytown Revitalization in Georgetown, develop an Affordable Homeownership Creation project that will construct approximately 27 new affordable homes, and additional smaller projects.
Kent County – $6.9 million
- Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing – $5 million to acquire and develop three properties in Dover to address blight and homelessness.
- Milford Housing Development Corp. – $1.9 million to assist about 70 individuals in achieving homeownership.
New Castle County – $11.5 million
- Todmorden Foundation/Woodlawn Trustees – $4.5 million to provide seniors in the City of Wilmington with additional affordable housing options.
- Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank – $4.5 million to address blight and provide revitalization to the houses around the new Bancroft School.
- Wilmington Housing Authority – $1.5 million to rehabilitate homes in the City of Wilmington and address blight.
- Southbridge Beautification – $1 million to address blight and provide repairs to more than 50 homes.
Launching mortgage relief
The Housing Authority last week announced it will spend $50 million to launch the Delaware Mortgage Relief Program. It will provide up to $40,000 in financial assistance to eligible households who experienced a COVID-19-related financial hardship that resulted in mortgage delinquency or forbearance.
This program is supported by the federal Homeowners Assistance Fund, which was created under the Rescue Plan to provide relief for homeowners.
Eligible homeowners must meet the following requirements:
- Delaware resident who owns and occupies their home in Delaware as their primary residence
- Income at or below 150 % AMI or 100% of the Median Income for the United States, whichever is greater (Find your AMI here.)
- Financial hardship after January 21, 2020, such as reduced income or increased expenses
- Delinquent by at least 30 days, including any payments during a forbearance period.
Homeowners can apply at demortgagehelp.com.
Carney also announced previously a $26.4 million Rescue Plan investment in housing funding for the purpose-built community in northeast Wilmington to accelerate the development of 350 affordable homes to completion.
Go to de.gov/rescueplan to learn more about Delaware’s Rescue Plan investments.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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