DSHA Celebrates Grand Opening of Splash Laundromat, Presents DDD Rebate Check

GEORGETOWN – Governor John Carney, Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi, local legislators, town officials and members of the business community celebrated the grand opening of Splash Laundromat on Friday and presented a Downtown Development Districts (DDD) rebate check in the amount of $457,997 to owners Enrique and Veronica Nunez. The Nunezes applied for and received a DDD reservation in fall 2017 in support of the project.

“I am honored to celebrate the grand opening of Splash Laundromat and present a DDD rebate check to Enrique and Veronica Nunez for their hard work to help revitalize Georgetown’s downtown area,” said Governor Carney. “This project demonstrates how the DDD program can be used as a valuable resource during this time for small businesses looking to expand, entrepreneurs opening new businesses, and homeowners completing renovation projects in our state’s downtowns.”

During Friday’s event, Director Ben Addi also announced that the latest round of funding is now available for large project rebate reservations through the DDD program. DSHA is accepting applications from investors and business owners through January 8, 2021.

“Community development is central to DSHA’s mission, and we are pleased to be able to offer this funding to support continued economic growth in our downtowns,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “We hope Enrique and Veronica Nunez’s story will inspire other business owners and investors to take advantage of the DDD program and apply for an award for their own large or small projects in one of the state’s 12 designated districts.”

The Nunezes purchased the property where Splash Laundromat is located in September 2015. At that time, the structure was vacant, but since then, the Nunezes have renovated and expanded the building to include the laundromat, a hair salon, and a coffee shop and snack bar on the first floor with three apartments on the second floor. The total development cost for the project was nearly $2.7 million.

“We could not have completed this project without the support of the DDD program,” said Enrique Nunez. “This program gave us the financial security of knowing we would receive a portion of our total development cost back as a rebate. For a small business owner, this security is crucial, especially given the current economic situation, and we are grateful to DSHA and the State of Delaware for offering business owners like us the opportunity to participate in the DDD program.”

Established in May 2014, the DDD program was created to spur private capital investment in commercial business districts and other neighborhoods; stimulate job growth and improve the commercial vitality of our cities and towns; and help build a stable community of long-term residents in our downtowns and other neighborhoods. Investors who make qualified real property investments in one of 12 designated districts can apply for a rebate of up to 20 percent of eligible costs. The designated districts are: Clayton, Delaware City, Dover, Georgetown, Harrington, Laurel, Middletown, Milford, the City of New Castle, Seaford, Smyrna and Wilmington.

Since the first reservation awards in April 2015, the DDD program has been a catalyst for private investment in Delaware’s downtowns, with $36 million in rebates through the program leveraging $630 million in private investment in designated downtown districts in all three counties.

Under the latest round of funding, investors can apply for a DDD reservation award for large property construction or redevelopment project investments of more than $350,000. Applications for small projects – an investment between $25,000 and $350,000 – are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year based on available funding. During this funding round, $10 million is available for large projects while $2 million is available for small projects.

Investments eligible for DDD rebate funds include capital investments on rehabilitation, expansion or new construction for commercial, industrial, residential or mixed-use buildings within the district boundaries. Rebates are issued after the project is completed. Qualified applicants include property owners, tenants, for-profit developers, nonprofit organizations, businesses and homeowners.

Applications for large project rebate funding must be received by DSHA by 4 p.m. on January 8, 2021. Additional information and application materials are available at www.destatehousing.com/ddd or can be obtained by calling DSHA at 888-363-8808.


DSHA Announces $2.8 Million Awarded to Strong Neighborhoods Projects Statewide

DOVER – Six projects statewide will receive $2.8 million from Delaware’s Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund to address vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties, Governor John Carney and Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi announced today.

The Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund is used to support community development, address crime and transform neighborhoods that are experiencing blight or other forms of stress. Through the program, abandoned properties are removed, renovated or replaced and sold to low-income residents who then become homeowners.

This is the fourth round of funding since the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund was launched in 2015. The investment of $2.8 million will leverage more than $11.5 million in private or other funding sources and lead to at least 53 new or rehabilitated housing units in Wilmington, New Castle County, Claymont, Dover and Laurel.

“Many of the communities in our state continue to feel the ripple effects of the foreclosure crisis a decade ago, and these effects have only been compounded by COVID-19,” said Governor Carney. “The Strong Neighborhoods program provides organizations working on the ground in these communities with resources needed to purchase abandoned properties, renovate or remove them and build beautiful homes in their place. The funding we’re announcing today will directly assist Delaware families by strengthening their communities and providing increased access to affordable homeownership.”

“By increasing homeownership rates in these neighborhoods, we not only change the lives of the families who purchase the homes, but we also help reduce crime, increase home values and strengthen communities,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “DSHA is proud to support these organizations who are working tirelessly, even throughout the pandemic, to inspire change in some of the state’s most underserved areas.”

The housing projects chosen for funding in this round, listed by jurisdiction, are:

Wilmington

  • Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank (WNCLB) working in cooperation with the City of Wilmington Real Estate & Housing Department, $400,000 for the acquisition and land banking of one commercial nuisance property and rehabilitation of seven units. The target area is concentrated around a one-to-two block radius surrounding 7th and Jefferson Streets in the West Center City area of Wilmington.

New Castle County

  • Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware, Inc., $250,000 to continue revitalization efforts along the Route 9 corridor. Funds will be used to purchase and renovate five blighted and vacant homes in the communities of Holloway Terrace, Garfield Park, Rosehill, Simonds Gardens and Collins Park.
  • New Castle County Department of Community Services, $450,000, to redevelop nine blighted and vacant homes in the distressed community of Edgemoor Gardens. Funding will complement and continue revitalization efforts in this area. New Castle County will also offer owner-occupied home repair and first-time homebuyer down payment and closing cost assistance with Community Development Block Grant funding.

Claymont

  • 2 Fish Home Renovations, $300,000 to acquire and renovate six vacant and/or blighted homes in the Overlook Colony and Clearfield Village communities. 2 Fish Home Renovations will also receive $50,000 for community support to hire a part-time employee to provide community engagement activities throughout the duration of the project. This project is a partnership between 2 Fish and Claymont Renaissance Development Corporation.

Dover

  • NCALL, $750,000 to acquire 12 vacant or abandoned properties and complete three demolitions of blighted structures (for a total of 15 units) within the Restoring Central Dover Plan area. NCALL will also receive $50,000 to provide community support and engagement in the targeted area. This project is located within Dover’s Downtown Development District.

Laurel

  • Sussex County Habitat for Humanity (SCHFH), $450,000 to identify and acquire nine properties in the blighted neighborhood known as Old Town and in nearby West Laurel. Three units will be located in Old Town and seven units will be located in West Laurel. Old Town is located within Laurel’s Downtown Development District and is within Laurel’s historic district. SCHFH will also receive $50,000 to provide community support and engagement in the West Laurel area. This project is a partnership between SCHFH, Milford Housing Development Corporation, Laurel Redevelopment Corporation and the Town of Laurel.

2 Fish Home Renovations will use Strong Neighborhoods funding to continue the organization’s efforts to improve the historic Overlook Colony and Clearfield Village area of Claymont. 2 Fish will also provide employment and job development opportunities for formerly incarcerated adults in New Castle County by hiring them to complete the home rehabilitation activities.

“This funding will help our organization further its core mission of providing job opportunities for returning citizens while also contributing to the revitalization of Claymont,” said Keith Smith, president and founder of the organization. “For years, the Overlook Colony area has struggled with upkeep of rental properties, absentee landlords and preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties. With this funding, 2 Fish can renovate some of these blighted properties and provide affordable homeownership opportunities to help transform this community.”

In Dover, NCALL and Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity will use Strong Neighborhoods funding to continue efforts to address dilapidated properties within neighborhoods around North New Street, North and South Kirkwood Streets and South Queen Street. The target area is made up of 75 blocks within the downtown Dover area with a homeownership rate of just 30 percent.

“NCALL and Habitat have been successful in the last few years in addressing blighted properties throughout Central Dover with 40 homes already constructed where dilapidated buildings once stood,” said Karen Speakman, executive director of NCALL. “With this additional Strong Neighborhoods funding, we can continue to build on these efforts and give residents of these communities the opportunity to become homeowners.”

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity will use their $500,000 award to begin the second phase of their Laurel Strong project, transforming blighted neighborhoods and providing new homeownership opportunities in the hardest-hit areas of the town.

“Laurel has a great vision for redevelopment, and we are pleased to be part of it,” said Kevin Gilmore, executive director of Sussex County Habitat for Humanity. “This Strong Neighborhoods funding will allow us to completely transform this area by increasing homeownership rates, improving the current housing stock and reducing crime.”

Since the launch of the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund in 2015, $13.7 million has been awarded to organizations throughout the state, leveraging an estimated $43.2 million in private and other investment. The program was initially funded using one-time bank settlement dollars and is now funded with a $3 million allocation in the FY 2021 state bond bill. Including the awards announced today, the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund has provided resources to remove, renovate, or replace more than 284 blighted properties throughout the state.


Statewide Family Reentry Pilot Program Launched

DOVER – Delaware’s five public housing authorities (PHAs), the Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) and the Delaware Center for Justice (DCJ) today launched the Delaware Family Reentry Pilot (FRP) Program, a statewide initiative to give individuals recently released from incarceration the opportunity to access safe and stable housing by reuniting with their families who live in public housing. It represents the latest statewide initiative to advance Governor John Carney’s effort to support reentry success and reduce Delaware’s recidivism rate through Executive Order 27.

“Giving individuals who are returning to their community the opportunity to live with family members can provide the strong support they need in the right environment to chart a new positive path,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis. “Delaware’s Family Reentry Pilot Program applies best practices from New York and other places which have demonstrated that programs like this can work effectively while supporting community safety.”

The Family Reentry Pilot represents a year-long collaboration between DOC, DCJ, and Delaware’s five PHAs – which include the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA), Dover Housing Authority, Wilmington Housing Authority, New Castle County Housing Authority, and Newark Housing Authority – to consider and implement a recommendation by the Vera Institute of Justice. The Institute worked with Delaware’s PHAs in 2018 and 2019 to identify opportunities to increase access to public housing for people with conviction histories. Delaware’s five PHAs applied together for its assistance through a competitive nationwide process and were one of only four groups selected by the Institute and the only statewide group to be selected.

“This program would not have been possible without the support of the Vera Institute, and we are grateful for the assistance they provided,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “Finding safe, affordable housing can be a challenge for individuals involved in the criminal justice system, and we know many of them are struggling even more during the COVID-19 crisis. This program is a collaborative effort to help those individuals succeed in their communities.”

Individuals who are eligible for the FRP program must:

  • have been released from incarceration within the past three years or have been living in the community for up to three years after being convicted of an offense which would ordinarily prohibit them from residing in public housing;
  • be currently under DOC community supervision;
  • have a close family member who currently lives in public housing through one of the five Delaware PHAs. Close family members include a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner.

“Wilmington Housing Authority is honored to be part of this initiative with the other public housing authorities, DOC and DCJ,” said Executive Director John Hill. “Without safe housing and the support of close family, we know many of the individuals in our city who are returning to the community after incarceration are more likely to reoffend and recidivate. The Family Reentry Pilot program gives those individuals an opportunity to live with family members who will support them and provide the safe shelter they need to be productive returning citizens.”

“This is an excellent example of how state, county, and local organizations can collaborate on an important issue. New Castle County, including our New Castle County Police Department, has supported this initiative from the start, and we are proud to see it coming to fruition,” said County Executive Matt Meyer. “This program will provide residents in our county with safe housing in a supportive environment – something that is as crucial as ever with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We want all of our residents to succeed and this is a step in the right direction to give those who have been involved in the criminal justice system an opportunity to thrive.”

The application and review process consists of three steps:

  • DOC staff, including Correctional Counselors, Probation Officers and In-reach Coordinators, identify eligible applicants and assist them with completing a program application.
  • Applications are submitted to the DCJ for referral to the appropriate PHA.
  • The PHA carefully reviews each application, conducts a standard assessment of the applicant’s conviction history, and interviews the family residing in PHA-assisted housing to assess the family’s readiness to welcome the FRP applicant into their household.

Approved participants will be permitted to live as temporary guests in the designated household for a period of one or two years, depending on their conviction history. Participants who successfully complete the temporary period while remaining in compliance with program guidelines may be officially added to the household’s PHA lease.

All FRP program participants and their host family members will be required to sign a contract binding them to strict guidelines at all times. If a guideline is violated, or if the participant commits a new offense during their participation in the program, he or she will be expelled from the FRP and be required to vacate the residence.

DCJ will oversee FRP referrals and make services available to qualified FRP participants to support their reentry success. These services will help minimize barriers by connecting participants to resources in order to address their immediate needs, foster self-sufficiency, and meet their goals. Qualifying participants who are actively under community supervision may engage in comprehensive intensive case management to assist with transportation, educational goals, securing permanent housing, obtaining employment, accessing basic needs (food, clothing, identification, etc.), building job readiness skills, accessing behavioral health services, and other services as needed.

“DCJ is excited to be a part of the Family Reentry Pilot Program with the housing authorities and our long-term partner, DOC,” said Executive Director David Bever. “We understand that family support and stable housing is a crucial component of successful reentry that promotes stability and increased connections to supportive networks to aid in assisting individuals from re-offending. Individuals being released from prison deserve to have the support they need to become empowered and reach their goals. We look forward to this collaboration as this program is assisting in breaking down barriers and allowing individuals to be reunited with their family members and recreate those bonds needed for prosocial, healthy relationships.”

Initially, the pilot is being offered in properties that are owned and operated by public housing authorities. Early next year, the pilot will expand to Housing Choice Voucher holders. PHAs will begin outreach to landlords who accept Housing Choice Vouchers in the coming months and participation in the FRP program will be voluntary for Housing Choicer Voucher landlords.


DSHA Pauses Delaware Housing Assistance Program to Manage Volume, Assess Available Resources

DOVER – Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is temporarily pausing application submissions for the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DE HAP). Pausing the program will allow DSHA to explore how resources from the federal government and others may be used in the coming weeks to continue the program and respond to the ongoing high demand for assistance. It will also allow DSHA staff and community partners to process the more than 5,000 applications that have been received since the program launched on March 26.

“Demand for the DE HAP program has been overwhelming, and while we regret having to make this decision to pause the program, we know it is in the best interest of the applicants that we take this time to assess how federal funds and other resources could be used for the program going forward and to process the thousands of applications we have received thus far,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi.

DE HAP provides emergency rental assistance to renters affected by shutdowns, closures, layoffs, reduced work hours, or unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Eligible households can receive up to $1,500 in assistance, with payments made directly to the property owner or utility company. Applications are received and processed by DSHA and then sent to participating community partners for eligibility verification and final approval for payment.

In total, DSHA, New Castle County, Sussex County and Kent County have committed up to $2.93 million to DE HAP. With more than 5,000 applications received to-date and 100-200 new applications received daily, DSHA estimates the program could need more than $7 million in order to fund all applicants who have requested assistance.

While the program is paused, DSHA will be monitoring federal resources coming directly to Delaware, including funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and assess how those resources and others could be used to assist tenants in the state who are struggling to pay their rent.

Effective March 25, Governor John Carney issued a Sixth Modification to his State of Emergency Declaration, placing a moratorium on evictions, late fees and utility shutoffs until the State of Emergency is lifted. However, the moratorium does not relieve tenants of their obligation to pay rent, and any tenants who know they will not be able to pay their rent need to be in contact with their landlord as soon as possible to discuss their options. Tenants who are being threatened with eviction by their landlords during the pandemic should contact the Delaware Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at 302-577-8600 or consumer.protection@delaware.gov. Tenants can also contact the Delaware Legal Help Link at https://delegalhelplink.org/ for assistance or the Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) at http://www.declasi.org/.


DSHA Announces $9 Million in Funding Available for Downtown Development District Project Rebates

DOVER – Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is accepting applications through June 1 for large project rebate reservations through the Downtown Development Districts (DDD) program. Investors who make qualified real property investments in one of 12 designated districts can apply for a rebate of up to 20 percent of eligible costs. The designated districts are: Clayton, Delaware City, Dover, Georgetown, Harrington, Laurel, Middletown, Milford, the City of New Castle, Seaford, Smyrna and Wilmington.

“Community development is central to DSHA’s mission, and we are pleased to be able to offer this funding to support continued economic growth in our downtowns,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “We know many businesses and homeowners across our state are grappling with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, and we want to remind them that the DDD program can be a valuable resource during this time. Funding is available for restaurants working on renovations, a property owner looking to upgrade office space or the homeowner undergoing an extensive residential rehab project.”

The application period is for large property construction or redevelopment project investments of more than $350,000. Applications for small projects – an investment between $25,000 and $350,000 – are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year based on available funding. During this funding round, $7 million is available for large projects while $2 million is available for small projects.

Investments eligible for DDD rebate funds include capital investments on rehabilitation, expansion or new construction for commercial, industrial, residential or mixed-use buildings within the district boundaries. Rebates are issued after the project is completed. Qualified applicants include property owners, tenants, for-profit developers, nonprofit organizations, businesses and homeowners.

Established in May 2014, the DDD program was created to spur private capital investment in commercial business districts and other neighborhoods; stimulate job growth and improve the commercial vitality of our cities and towns; and help build a stable community of long-term residents in our downtowns and other neighborhoods.

Since the first reservation awards in April 2015, the DDD program has been a catalyst for private investment in Delaware’s downtowns, with $36 million in rebates through the program leveraging $582 million in private investment in designated downtown districts in all three counties.

Applications for large-project rebate funding must be received by DSHA by 4 p.m. on June 1. Additional information and application materials are available at www.destatehousing.com/ddd or can be obtained by calling DSHA at 888-363-8808.