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Carney invests $78 million in affordable housing initiatives

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Gov, John Carney has allocated ARPA funding to incentivize affordable housing development in Delaware, including awarding millions to nine organizations in the state.. | PHOTO FROM ADOBE STOCK

WILMINGTON — Amid rising housing costs, Gov. John Carney will invest a combined $78 million on affordable housing initiatives across the state, including launching a package of funds to incentivize building projects for low-income residents.

Breaking down the funding, the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) will spend roughly $50 million on four programs that are billed as a multitiered approach to address the affordable housing crisis. In addition, the governor allocated $28 million to several organizations in the three counties to buy property for housing projects or other programs.

The funding for the package of housing initiative comes out of Delaware’s $1 billion share of the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We are investing in affordable housing development across our state so that more Delaware families have access to safe, affordable housing,” Carney said in a prepared statement. “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 will include: 

  • The Catalyst Fund, which will fund acquisition and rehabilitation of vacant homes through a partnership with Cinnaire. Cinnaire, a certified Community Development Financial Institution that offers lending options for community development construction, will offer construction lending by leveraging  ARPA funds to incentivize for-profit and nonprofit developers to buy and renovate blighted properties.
  • The Market Pressure Relief Fund, which will provide financing to owners of multifamily rental projects under construction that have faced increased costs due to supply chain issues and inflation.
  • The Accelerator Fund, which will incentivize developers to provide affordable rental units in their projects. The DSHA will offer upfront payment to offset construction costs, and in return, the developer will commit to setting aside rental units for lower monthly rent.
  • The Preservation Fund, which will offer incentives to ensure neatly 1,000 existing affordable rental units on the market.

The Catalyst and Market Pressure Fun is expected to launch this summer. The Accelerator Fund is expected to launch this fall, while the preservation fund will launch next spring. All programs will run through 2026.

In addition, the state allocated $28 million on nine specific projects within three counties throughout the state.New Castle County will receive $11.5 million for four projects; Sussex County will receive $9.9 million for three projects, and Kent County will see $6.9 million for two projects.

Blight appeared to be a prime initiative in Wilmington, as the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank received $4.5 million to revive the houses near the new Bancroft School. The Wilmington Housing Authority received $1.5 million to rehabilitate homes in the city, and Southbridge Beautification received $1 million to address blight and repair more than 50 homes.

Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing also received $5 million to acquire three properties in the city to address homelessness. Meanwhile, NCALL will use its $2.9 million to leverage federal funding to develop 40 rental units for poultry industry workers and Sussex Habitat for Humanity received $3 million to aid a revitalization project in Georgetown as well as another project that will build 27 homes.

The NCALL Land Bank was awarded $4 million to buy land in Sussex and Kent county for future housing projects, while the Milford Housing Development Corporation received $1.9 million to aid 70 people through its homeownership programs.

In Delaware, single family homes are being built at a rapid pace but sales prices are quickly rising. In 2021, there were 1,065 single family building permits issued in New Castle County — a 110% increase from 2020, according to the Builders and Remodelers Association of Delaware.

In the same year, Kent County issued 587 permits and Sussex County issued 4,543 permits. Sussex County alone saw a 234% increase from 2020.

The average home sale prices for single family homes have jumped 18% between 2021 to 2022, according to a report from the Delaware Association of Realtors. The average home in Delaware is selling for $411,647.

But multi-housing permits seem to be slipping. In 2020, New Castle County issued 82 permits and Kent County issued 33 permits. Sussex County, which is seeing a building boom to cater to retirees, issued 159 multi-family housing permits that year.

“The DSHA is committed to stewarding these funds efficiently and transparently. With these historic investments, our state is firmly positioned to meet the critical needs of Delawareans across the state,” DSHA Director Eugene Young Jr. said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The DSHA and its partners will host public meetings to gather feedback from the community and stakeholders before launching these new programs. The first meeting will focus on the Catalyst Fund and will take place the week of July 25.  

More information, including upcoming meeting dates and program details, will be posted on destatehousing.com.

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