Gov. Carney, AG Jennings, DSHA, Delaware Judiciary Announce Joint Effort on Foreclosure & Eviction Prevention

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney, Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi and Justice of the Peace Court Chief Magistrate Alan Davis announced a joint effort on foreclosure and eviction prevention to support Delaware homeowners and renters financially impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown.

“This is still an extremely difficult time for many Delawareans and Delaware families – and this initiative is about continuing to support our neighbors through this COVID-19 crisis,” said Governor Carney. “We need to make sure homeowners and renters throughout our state are aware of their options and know what to do next if they have missed a rent or mortgage payment. We have brought together agencies across our state to more effectively coordinate our efforts and provide real support for Delawareans and Delaware families.”

Governor Carney’s latest modification includes several consumer protections for Delawareans and Delaware families. Effective at 8:00 a.m. on July 1, filings for foreclosures and evictions can resume, but evictions will continue to be stayed to permit the Justice of the Peace Courts to determine whether the parties would benefit from a court-supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution.

That process may include identifying access to housing support services through the Delaware State Housing Authority. Local sheriffs and constables are directed to refrain from removing individuals from residential properties unless a Delaware court determines that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice. In addition, utility companies must offer four-month payment plans to those affected by COVID-19 who were unable to pay utility bills during the height of the pandemic, and insurance companies must offer 90-day repayment plans for those affected by COVID-19 who failed to make premium payments during the height of the pandemic.

DSHA and the Department of Justice will partner on a comprehensive plan to educate Delaware homeowners and renters on the foreclosure and eviction process and provide integrated services, including financial assistance, to prevent Delaware residents from losing their homes due to a COVID-19-related job loss, loss of income or illness. In addition to at least $15 million in initial federal funding for direct housing assistance, DSHA is committing $250,000 and the Department of Justice is committing $100,000 for public awareness efforts and support to advocacy organizations.

“Even as businesses resume operations and more Delawareans get back to work after COVID-19 shutdowns, we know many homeowners and renters in our state are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Along with DSHA, we want to make sure that all Delawareans understand the foreclosure and eviction process, that they know all of their rights and responsibilities, and that they are able to consider all of the assistance available to them,” said Attorney General Jennings.

“DSHA remains committed to helping more Delawareans stay in their homes both during the pandemic and in the months to follow,” said DSHA Director Ben Addi. “The steps we are taking are important in preventing foreclosure and eviction court filings and will go a long way in helping us avoid a foreclosure and eviction wave in the coming months that could cause irreparable financial harm to many Delawareans.”

The joint effort on foreclosure prevention will include three key focus areas:

  • Launching a multifaceted educational campaign targeting Delaware homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure due to financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Supporting an increase in capacity for the state’s HUD-approved housing counseling nonprofit agencies to provide guidance and assistance to homeowners and additional mediation capacity in the Automatic Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program; and
  • Providing timely financial assistance tools including a new program designed to provide emergency mortgage relief for homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to a COVID-19 job loss or loss of income.

DSHA and the Department of Justice are working closely with several HUD-approved housing counseling agencies throughout the state, including NCALL, to support increased capacity within those agencies.

“NCALL is honored to be working with DSHA and the Department of Justice to assist Delaware homeowners at risk of foreclosure,” said Executive Director Karen Speakman. “As a housing counseling agency, we can offer a lifeline to households who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, provide guidance on the options available to them and help them navigate the foreclosure mediation process.”

The joint effort on eviction prevention will include the below key focus areas:

  • Launching a multifaceted educational campaign targeting Delaware renters at risk of eviction due to financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis;
  • Providing funding to the state’s legal aid organizations who offer legal services for unrepresented tenants facing eviction;
  • An Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program created and managed by the Justice of the Peace Court that will encourage property owners and tenants to work together on possible solutions to avoid eviction; and
  • Reopening applications for the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DE HAP) which provides rental assistance for Delawareans struggling to pay rent due to a pandemic-related job loss or illness. Income eligibility and application information for DE HAP will be available on DSHA’s website.

“This is a great program and the Delaware Judiciary is pleased to be a partner in this joint effort to help people better understand the eviction and foreclosure process, get individuals and families the help they need and ultimately keep people in their homes, particularly during these difficult times,” said Chief Magistrate Davis. “Our new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program – which has roots in the Superior Court’s successful mortgage mediation program – will be available for a wide variety of cases, but we expect that a large number of landlord-tenant disputes can be resolved through this process, quickly, fairly and amicably. We also recognize that landlords have a stake here and may also be struggling and we believe this program will help them be made more whole than otherwise might be possible. Finally, this program will be largely online, meaning participants will generally not have to go to court – or a mediator’s office – which is particularly advantageous during this pandemic.”

Support for the state’s legal aid organizations will be made available under funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With the funding, organizations like Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) can provide tenants legal representation so they can avoid displacement and homelessness.

“The eviction moratorium protection provided to tenants by the Governor has been extremely important to ensuring that families are not evicted from their homes during the pandemic. However, the moratorium did not abate the rent. Once the moratorium is lifted, tenants who have lost jobs and income during the pandemic will be taken to court and face eviction unless a significant rental assistance program is implemented. We will quickly be overwhelmed by requests for assistance from tenants worried that they may lose their homes because they have fallen behind in rent,” said CLASI Executive Director Dan Atkins. “With our involvement, evictions can often be prevented altogether, saving tenants, landlords, and the State the expense and disruptions of displacement and homelessness.”

Additional information on the resources available for homeowners and renters facing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 crisis is available on DSHA’s website at destatehousing.com/covid19 or at de.gov/coronavirus. Homeowners can also contact the Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Foreclosure Prevention at de.gov/foreclosureprevention or (800) 220-5424. 

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Health or medically-related COVID-19 questions can also be submitted by email to DPHCall@delaware.gov.

Report a business for COVID-19 non-compliance using this form.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response to COVID-19, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

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Governor Carney Signs Vote By Mail Legislation

House Bill 346 creates safe, more direct alternative to in-person voting due to COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del.  – Governor John Carney on Wednesday signed into law House Bill 346, legislation sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst that allows Delawareans to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, general and special elections. House Bill 346 makes voting by mail an alternative to in-person voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and establishes procedures for voting by mail which mirror the procedures for absentee voting. Voting by mail does not replace in-person voting, which will be available for those not voting by absentee or mail ballot.

Watch video of bill signing on Facebook or YouTube.

“My position on this issue has been simple and consistent. We should make it easier – not harder – for all Delawareans to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” said Governor Carney. “That’s especially important this year as our state and country continue to grapple with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will make sure that Delawareans can fairly and securely cast their ballots and have their voices heard.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our lives as we have taken steps to protect residents’ health and reduce the spread of the virus. No resident should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote, and House Bill 346 will make sure no one has to make that difficult choice,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, the lead sponsor of the bill. “This new law gives every voter the option to cast their ballot by mail. Given the uncertainties of the virus and the steps we have to take to limit its spread, this is a critical option. We’ve done this the right way, using an existing, successful absentee voting system Delaware has used for decades. What we have done today will ensure that the 2020 elections in Delaware are a model for other states, not a ‘what went wrong?’ highlight on TV.”

“No one should ever have to choose between their health and voting in a free and open election,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “With another spike of coronavirus cases expected in the fall just as many Delawareans prepare to exercise their fundamental right to vote, we have an obligation to provide our constituents – particularly those with a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 – with safe, secure options for casting their ballots. House Bill 346 does not prevent a single person from voting in person, but it will give voters a choice that will preserve our democracy and could very well save lives.”

 

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DELAWARE TEAMS EARN TOP HONORS IN GIRLS GO CYBERSTART

Teams from Padua Academy, Charter School of Wilmington and MOT Charter School receive top scores

DOVER, Del. — Governor John Carney and Chief Information Officer (CIO) James Collins congratulate Delaware’s winners of the Girls Go CyberStart program sponsored by the SANS Institute. From February 10 through May 21, more than 15,600 young high school women representing nearly all U.S. states and territories competed in an online series of challenges that allow students to solve cybersecurity-related puzzles and explore exciting, relevant topics, such as cryptography and digital forensics. Delaware’s top-scoring teams were Cyber Pandas from Padua Academy (Miranda Evans, Molly Shapiro, Annamarie Warnke and Kelsey Mulrooney), Charter School of Wilmington Club from the Charter School of Wilmington (Cathy Chian, Udeerna Tippabhatla, Isabel Snyder and Maya Bordrick), and Mustang Pride from MOT Charter School (Rachel Pfeifer, Jocelyn Bartsch, Divita Taduvayi, Shriya Bagdi). These teams ranked ninth, sixty-third and one hundred and eighty-second nationally. Prizes, provided by the SANS Institute, include:

  • 1st prize = $100 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 2nd prize = $75 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 3rd prize = $50 per team member and $100 for their school

Delaware took part in Girls Go CyberStart for the third year in a row and had 187 girls participate. Twenty-two went on to compete nationally, with four young women from the Cyber Pandas team ranking in the top ten.

“It’s great that the SANS Institute adapted and extended the Girls Go CyberStart competition this year to accommodate the needs of our students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor John Carney. “Congratulations to Delaware’s winning teams and to all the students that participated in this challenge. We look forward to seeing you pursue these cybersecurity talents as we prepare the workforce of tomorrow.”

“Proving opportunities like Girls Go CyberStart, planting seeds early and inspiring our students are absolutely essential to helping them discover and pursue a passion for cybersecurity,” said Chief Information Officer James Collins. “We are so proud of all the students that stepped up to take part in this competition and we encourage each and every one to continue to develop those skills as the importance of cybersecurity will only continue to grow.”

“When I first participated in Girls Go CyberStart as a Freshman, I didn’t know anything about cybersecurity,” said Cyber Pandas team member Annamarie Warnke. “CyberStart gave me a strong foundation, not only in basic cybersecurity and computer science topics such as cryptography and web exploitation, but also in life skills such as problem solving and teamwork. Every year, I get to build on my abilities when I compete in CyberStart; there are challenges for every skill level, and it’s still fun even after I’ve competed for three years. Girls Go CyberStart truly sparked my interest in cybersecurity and gave me the tools I needed to maintain that interest throughout high school.”

“CyberStart gave me the opportunity to explore my interest in cybersecurity,” explained Cyber Pandas teammate Molly Shapiro. “When I started in my freshman year, I had no clue what I was doing. Now, I’m able to hold my own in a national competition. It presents cybersecurity problems in an interesting and engaging way and allows me to develop my skills while working with my friends on an entertaining competition. ”

For more information about cybersecurity and/or GirlsGoCyberStart, please visit https://digiknow.delaware.gov or www.GirlsGoCyberStart.com.

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About the Delaware Department of Technology and Information

The Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is the state’s central IT organization, chartered to deliver core services to other state organizations and exercise governance over the technology direction and investments of the state. DTI provides enterprise services that enable other organizations to effectively fulfill their missions.

www.dti.delaware.gov

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS provides cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 50 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community.

https://www.sans.org


Governor Carney Issues Modification to State of Emergency

Modification closes eastern Sussex bars to limit spread of COVID-19 in beach communities

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Tuesday issued the 23rd modification to the State of Emergency declaration, closing bars in eastern Sussex County to limit spread of COVID-19 in Delaware’s beach communities. The modification also includes consumer protections for Delawareans who may face foreclosure or eviction filings.

Click here to read Governor Carney’s modified State of Emergency.

“Delawareans and Delaware businesses have made significant sacrifices to flatten the curve. We are beating this disease. But COVID-19 has not gone away,” said Governor Carney. “We need to protect our progress, and stay vigilant. Know your status by getting tested – especially if you have spent time in our beach communities. Wear a face mask in public settings, as you’re required to do under the State of Emergency. Remain socially distant. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We know those are the best, and easiest, ways to prevent transmission of this virus. Let’s not go backwards.”

Visit de.gov/gettested to find a local testing site.

Governor Carney’s latest modification includes several consumer protections for Delawareans and Delaware families. Effective at 8:00 a.m. on July 1, filings for foreclosures and evictions can resume, but evictions will continue to be stayed to permit the Justice of the Peace Courts to determine whether the parties would benefit from a court-supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution. That process may include identifying access to housing support services through the Delaware State Housing Authority. Local sheriffs and constables are directed to refrain from removing individuals from residential properties unless a Delaware court determines that enforcement is necessary in the interest of justice. In addition, utility companies must offer four-month payment plans to those affected by COVID who were unable to pay utility bills during the height of the pandemic, and insurance companies must offer 90-day repayment plans for those affected by COVID who failed to make premium payments during the height of the pandemic.

Report a business for non-compliance using this form.

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Health or medically-related COVID-19 questions can also be submitted by email to DPHCall@delaware.gov.

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response to COVID-19, go to de.gov/coronavirus.

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DelDOT Announces Opening of New Christina River Bridge and Approach Roads at Wilmington Riverfront

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announces that the new Christina River Bridge and approach roads at the Wilmington Riverfront has opened to pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle traffic as of 2:00pm today. The new access roads and bridge improve multimodal traffic flow around the Wilmington Riverfront and provides direct access to Route 13 and the southeastern side of Wilmington.

The nearly $50 million project, which broke ground in June 2017, includes a 470-foot multi-modal bridge over the Christina River that includes two 12-foot travel lanes and a separated 14-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian path, and more than 1.5 miles of new and improved roads, sidewalks, and parking. The new access road for the Russel W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge will begin construction later this summer.

An opening event will be announced in July.