DSHA’s Eviction Defense, COVID-19 Rental Assistance, and Homes for Grads Programs Win National Awards

DOVER – Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) received national recognition for three of its newest programs when they were honored with a 2020 Annual Award for Program Excellence during the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) annual conference. DSHA received the most awards of any state housing authority in the country. The conference was held virtually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The awards recognized the success of DSHA’s Eviction Defense Program (EDP), which provides legal representation for low-income tenants facing eviction; COVID-19 rental assistance program, which provides financial assistance for tenants financially impacted by the pandemic; and Homes for Grads, a homeownership program offering lower interest rates for recent college graduates.

“We are honored to receive these awards on behalf of our partners and the many Delawareans who have benefitted from these programs,” said Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi. “Throughout the pandemic, we have helped individuals and families across Delaware remain in their homes through programs like the Delaware Housing Assistance Program and the Eviction Defense Program. We are proud to be recognized by our peers for our efforts and for the innovative work we are doing.”

DSHA was one of 38 housing finance agencies across the country to submit entries in the 2020 awards program and one of 16 states to win an award. More than 100 entries were submitted for consideration. NCSHA judges evaluate each entry for its level of innovation, replicability, measurable benefit to housing agency customers, effective use of resources and achievement of strategic objectives, among other criteria. The judges are affordable housing industry leaders and subject matter experts selected for their relevant expertise, experience, and impartiality.

“This year’s award winners reflect the innovation state HFAs around the country have shown in responding to the coronavirus, as well as their progress in solving the longstanding housing affordability needs of their states and the nation,” said NCSHA Executive Director Stockton Williams. “Delaware State Housing Authority has been at the forefront of some of the most pressing housing-related issues facing Delawareans before and during the pandemic, and NCSHA is proud to honor the housing authority with these awards to recognize their hard work.”

The Eviction Defense Program (EDP) provides legal representation for tenants facing eviction in Delaware. Delaware’s Legal Aid organizations receive funding through DSHA and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s homelessness prevention tool, Home4Good, to support the EDP. In addition to expanding access to counsel, the EDP also includes funding to pay rent and utility arrearages, directly addressing what is often an underlying cause of eviction. This additional funding for rent and utility arrears is a unique aspect of DSHA’s EDP compared to similar programs in other states.

“We are very excited about this recognition for DSHA and are proud to partner with the housing authority on their efforts to support tenants facing eviction in Delaware by providing legal representation,” said Daniel Atkins, Executive Director of Delaware Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. “The Eviction Defense Program directly addresses the justice gap many low-income Delawareans encounter when facing eviction, and the importance of this program has only been heightened by the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need to help more Delawareans remain in their homes, and the Eviction Defense Program is a critical resource to do just that.”

DSHA’s Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DE HAP) was launched in late March and provides up to $8,000 in assistance to tenants in Delaware who are struggling financially due to a pandemic-related job loss, loss of income or illness. To date, DSHA has approved or is processing nearly 3,000 applications at a total of almost $8.8 million in rental assistance. DSHA partnered with the Delaware Judiciary on resources for tenants facing eviction, including DE HAP and an Online Dispute Resolution system.

“This is a great program that has helped so many Delawareans during these difficult times, and the Delaware Judiciary is pleased to be a partner with DSHA to help renters and landlords find equitable resolutions,” said Justice of the Peace Court Chief Magistrate Alan Davis. “We congratulate the housing authority on this worthy accomplishment and look forward to continuing our great partnership.”

Launched in June 2019, DSHA’s Homes for Grads program provides a reduced mortgage rate of 50 basis points or one-half of a percentage for homebuyers in Delaware who have graduated college with a four-year degree or higher within the last three years. The discount offered by DSHA provides the typical buyer with savings of roughly $60 a month or about $720 annually and $21,600 over the life of the loan. Due to market volatility related to the global pandemic, the program has been temporarily paused. To date, DSHA has closed on 54 Homes for Grads loans at a total of more than $11.6 million.

$1 Million Awarded to Housing Development Fund Projects Statewide

CLAYMONT – Seven affordable housing projects statewide will receive a total of $1 million from Delaware’s Housing Development Fund (HDF), Governor John Carney announced today joined by Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, elected officials and community leaders from across Delaware.

The HDF, Delaware’s housing trust fund, was created for the purpose of providing affordable, decent, safe and sanitary housing to very low-, low-, and moderate-income households. Nonprofit developers or sponsoring agencies can apply for grants from the HDF to build new affordable housing, rehabilitate existing owner-occupied housing or for adaptive reuse of nonresidential buildings.

Six organizations will receive HDF funding in this round to create or rehabilitate a total of 24 homes around the state. Once the homes are complete, the organizations will then sell them to low- to moderate-income Delawareans.

“The organizations receiving HDF funding in this round are to be commended for their efforts to give more Delaware families a safe, affordable place to call home,” said Governor Carney. “With the HDF, the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund and the Downtown Development Districts programs, we are working hard to transform Delaware’s communities and increase access to affordable housing and homeownership.”

“DSHA relies on our partners to help us provide more Delawareans with safe, affordable housing, and we are grateful for the dedication these organizations have shown to this mission,” said DSHA Director Ben Addi. “With this funding, at least two dozen Delaware families will have the opportunity to become homeowners in communities throughout our state.”

Today’s announcement event took place at a property being renovated by 2 Fish Home Renovations, an HDF award recipient organization that provides employment and job development opportunities for formerly incarcerated adults in New Castle County.

2 Fish partners with the Delaware Department of Correction and Delaware Technical Community College to provide a five-week construction training course while the prospective employees are still incarcerated. Once they are released from prison, they are prepared to start work with 2 Fish. To date, 2 Fish has hired 20 formerly incarcerated individuals, including Jarrell Hawkins, who spoke at today’s event about working for the company.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities 2 Fish has provided me,” said Hawkins. “The training and work experience I have received from this organization will help me as I search for future job opportunities and advance my career.”

2 Fish plans to use HDF funding to acquire and rehab four homes in the Overlook Colony neighborhood of Claymont and sell them to low- and moderate-income buyers.

“2 Fish Home Renovations is honored to be receiving this funding from DSHA,” said Keith Smith, president and founder of the organization. “While our core mission is to provide job development opportunities in New Castle County for formerly incarcerated individuals, this funding will also help our organization have a hand in revitalizing the town of Claymont by offering families in the area the chance to own their own home at an affordable price.”

The affordable housing projects receiving HDF funding in this round, listed by jurisdiction, are:


2 Fish Home Renovations will receive $200,000 in HDF funding to acquire and rehab four homes in the Overlook Colony neighborhood in Claymont. The homes are located in a DSHA-designated Homeownership Opportunity Area. The new homes will have three bedrooms and one bathroom and have approximately 1,150 square feet of living space. Once the homes are completed, the organization will target two homebuyers with incomes between 51% and 60% Area Median Income (AMI) and two homebuyers with incomes between 61% and 80% AMI.


Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC) will receive $200,000 to construct four new homes in the Harmony Hill subdivision of Dover. Harmony Hill is a rural community located in a DSHA-designated Homeownership Opportunity Area. MHDC has completed roughly 25 homes in the vicinity of this neighborhood with many located in Harmony Hill. The new homes will have a minimum of three bedrooms and two bathrooms and have approximately 1,200 square feet of living space. MHDC is targeting two homebuyers between 61% and 80% AMI and two homebuyers between 51% and 60% AMI.


Sussex County Habitat for Humanity (SCHFH) will receive $140,000 to construct four new homes in and around the Ingram Village development in Ellendale. SCHFH owns all four properties – two are located in Ingram Village and two are located just outside the entrance to the development. This will be the fifth phase of this development for SCHFH. The new one-story ranch style homes will be approximately 1,250 square feet and include three to four bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms depending on household size. SCHFH is targeting two homebuyers with income at or below 50% AMI and two homebuyers with income between 51% and 60% AMI.


Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity (CDHFH) will receive $100,000 to construct two new homes in Milford. The proposed properties are unknown at this time, but CDHFH plans to target homes in Milford’s Downtown Development District area. The homes will include three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms with 1,440 to 1,482 square feet of living space. CDHFH will target homebuyers with income between 51% and 60% AMI and will provide a 30-year mortgage at a 0% interest rate to all homebuyers.


SCHFH will receive $105,000 to construct three new single-family homes in the Town of Milton. SCHFH owns all three properties, and they are located at 210 Bay Avenue, 417 Pine Street, and 416 Cedar Street. The completion of this project will provide necessary affordable homeownership opportunities in Eastern Sussex County where there is currently a lack of affordable housing. The new one-story ranch style homes will be approximately 1,250 square feet and include three to four bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms depending on household size. After completion, each home will be sold to one of SCHFH’s partner families. SCHFH will target one homebuyer with income at or below 50% AMI and two homebuyers with income between 51% and 60% AMI.


Diamond State Community Land Trust (DSCLT) will receive $120,000 for the construction of four new homes in the Governors Grant community located in Seaford. The targeted properties are located at 208, 210, 212, and 214 William Ross Lane. DSCLT currently owns all four properties. The homes will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms and will include mobility features such as zero-step entries and livable interiors to meet the needs of underserved populations such as persons living with disabilities. DSCLT will sell the homes for approximately $140,000, enabling them to reach households below 50% AMI. At least two of the four homes will be sold to households with members with disabilities.


Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County (HFHNCC) will receive $135,000 for the renovation of three townhouses in the City of Wilmington. Two of the three properties are located in one or more of DSHA’s designated Homeownership Priority Areas. HFHNCC owns all three properties, and they are located at 718 Bennett Street, 3004 N. West Street, and 35 E. 22nd Street. This project continues HFHNCC’s longstanding commitment to the Eastside of Wilmington. Two of the townhomes will have four bedrooms and one will have three bedrooms. HFHNCC plans to target two homebuyers with household incomes at or below 50% AMI and one homebuyer with a household income between 51% and 60% AMI. All three homes will be sold to first-time homebuyers.

DSHA Launches Homeownership Program for Recent College Graduates

DOVER – Governor John Carney and Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi announced the launch of a new homeownership program for recent college graduates at an event recognizing Homeownership Month. The new program, Homes for Grads, will offer discounted rates on DSHA’s down payment assistance loans for homebuyers who have graduated college with a four-year degree or higher in the last three years.

Joining the Governor and Director Ben Addi to launch the program were elected officials, higher education officials, realtors, lenders and housing counselors.

Homes for Grads will provide a reduced mortgage rate of 50 basis points or one-half of a percentage for recent college graduates when they are accessing one of DSHA’s Preferred Plus loans which include down payment and settlement assistance.

“Having an educated workforce is critically important to our state, but one of the economic development challenges we face is attracting college graduates to our state and keeping them here,” said Governor Carney. “The Homes for Grads program is another incentive we can offer to encourage these graduates to make Delaware their home. We think this can have a lasting impact on our state’s economic wellbeing by encouraging our best and brightest residents to stay here in Delaware, contributing to our economy and to our communities.”

With the cost of a college education continuing to rise each year, many graduates will leave school with student debt, including 65 percent of Delawareans. This debt can be a significant barrier to affording monthly payments and saving for a down payment.

“We want to make buying a home a reality for more Delawareans throughout our state. The Homes for Grads program will help us reach this recent college graduate population who may be struggling with student debt and facing other barriers to homeownership,” said Director Ben Addi. “The program will make the home-buying process easy and affordable for those who have just completed their college education.”

“The Homes for Grads program offers a great opportunity for Delaware State University graduates to put down roots here in our state,” said Provost Tony Allen. “Our graduates have the knowledge and skills that Delaware employers are looking for, and this new program provides an additional incentive to encourage them to buy a home and stay in Delaware after they finish their schooling.”

Homes for Grads is being funded with a $10 million commitment from DSHA and will be subsidized by revenues from DSHA’s primary homeownership loan programs. In addition, the program is financed with support from Discover Bank.

“Discover Bank is proud of our successful partnership with DSHA to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income borrowers throughout our state,” said Bank President James J. Roszkowski. “This Homeownership Month, I am pleased to say that, through our partnership with DSHA, we helped over 2,200 families reach the goal of homeownership last year, with over $350 million in mortgage financing. The Homes for Grads program is an excellent example of DSHA’s creative strategies to improve the mortgage program. Discover Bank has $50 million in commitment remaining to DSHA for mortgage financing in 2019 to support this effort, and others, to help our neighbors, and our communities.”

DSHA will work with its participating lenders to offer the Homes for Grads program to recent college graduates. Tracy Chongling, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, a participating DSHA lender, said she sees great potential in the new Homes for Grads program and is thrilled to be able to offer it to potential homebuyers. “I hear every day from Delawareans who do not think they will be able to afford to buy a home, including many college graduates who have not been able to save for a down payment due to student loan debt,” she said. “This new program will help so many of these individuals and families achieve the American dream of buying their own home.”

Buyers who participate in the Homes for Grads program must meet eligibility requirements for DSHA’s homeownership loan programs, including credit score and income limits. They will be required to have a minimum credit score of 620. If their credit score is not at this number, DSHA offers financial coaching to help buyers improve their score and get on the path to homeownership.

In correlation with the launch of this new program, DSHA is also adjusting the income levels for its homeownership programs in order to provide more opportunities for residents to purchase homes in Delaware. The new income limits are based on the area median incomes for Delaware’s three counties and are tied to the number of people living in a household. Previously, DSHA used a flat household income limit for all buyers. The new income limits can be found on DSHA’s homeownership website.

Recent college graduates who are interested in learning more about how to participate in Homes for Grads should visit DSHA’s homeownership website or contact a participating lender.

$3.2 Million Awarded to Strong Neighborhoods Projects


DOVER – Seven projects statewide will receive $3.2 million from Delaware’s Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund to address vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties, Governor John Carney announced today joined by Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and elected officials and community leaders from across Delaware.

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 third round of funding since the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund was launched in 2015. The investment of $3.2 million will leverage an estimated $9.4 million in private or other funding sources and lead to more than 60 new or rehabilitated housing units in Wilmington, New Castle County, Dover, Milford and Georgetown.

“Many of the communities in our state continue to feel the ripple effects of the recession and the foreclosure crisis,” said Governor Carney. “The Strong Neighborhoods program provides organizations working in these communities the resources to acquire abandoned properties, renovate or remove them and build beautiful homes in their place. The funding announced today will directly impact families by improving communities and providing increased access to homeownership.”

“These projects will be helping families and individuals who need housing, while strengthening the neighborhoods in which they are located, revitalizing properties that have fallen into disrepair and bringing people back to live in them,” said DSHA Director Ben Addi.

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


  • Central Baptist Community Development Corporation (CBCDC): $500,000 to address and rehabilitate 10 vacant properties in the city’s East Side Neighborhood. This project is a joint effort between the CBCDC and Cinnaire Solutions.
  • Cinnaire Solutions: $450,000 for acquisition, demolition and new construction of nine long-term vacant properties on the 600 block of W. 8th Street in West Center City. This project is a partnership between Cinnaire and the Delaware Valley Development Company, a long-standing Delaware-based affordable housing developer.
  • Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank (WNCLB): $505,000 to acquire and demolish 10 or more vacant properties on the 600 block of N. Jefferson Street in West Center City. This project supports the same neighborhood of vacant properties as the Cinnaire project.

 New Castle County

  • New Castle County Department of Community Services, $400,000 to continue revitalization efforts along the Route 9 corridor. Funds will be used to purchase and renovate four blighted and vacant homes in the Collins Park community and four additional homes in the distressed community of Edgemoor Gardens.


  • NCALL Research, $500,000 to support 10 newly constructed homes in the Restoring Central Dover target area within the Downtown Development District (DDD). This is a partnership between NCALL and Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.


  • Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC), $350,000 to support seven newly constructed or rehabbed homes. This work will take place in the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Milford where several DDD projects are already underway.


  • Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, $500,000 to identify and acquire 10 properties in the Kimmeytown neighborhood. Two properties will be sold to the MHDC to reconstruct or rehabilitate.

The CBCDC in Wilmington will use Strong Neighborhoods funding as they continue efforts to improve the East Side of the city. “The East Side community has historically faced low home ownership levels and high levels of vacancy and blight. This funding will have a significant impact on stabilizing this neighborhood and creating greater opportunity for homeownership in an area that has previously seen few homeowners,” said Rev. Dr. Terrence Keeling, President and CEO of the CBCDC.

In Dover, NCALL and Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity will use Strong Neighborhoods funding to continue efforts to address dilapidated properties within neighborhoods around Queen Street, North New Street and North Kirkwood Street. The target area is made up of 75 blocks within the downtown Dover area with a homeownership rate of just 25 percent. “Dover is grateful to the Governor and DSHA for their support of our efforts to strengthen city neighborhoods,” said Mayor Christiansen. “With these funds, we can continue to address these blighted properties and give residents of these communities the opportunity to become homeowners.”   

Sussex County Habitat for Humanity will use their $500,000 award to improve the Georgetown neighborhood known as Kimmeytown. “Many of the homes in this part of the town are dilapidated and in need of significant repair, with overcrowding and absentee landlords creating a stock of vacant and blighted housing. Working with the Kimmeytown Partnership, this funding will allow us to completely transform this area,” said Kevin Gilmore, executive director of the Sussex County Habitat for Humanity.

Since the launch of the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund in 2015, $11.25 million has been awarded to organizations throughout the state, leveraging an estimated $34.2 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 2019 state bond bill. Including the awards announced today, the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund has provided resources to remove, renovate, or replace more than 230 blighted properties throughout the state.

DSHA Launches New Homeownership Website

DOVER, DE – For anyone in Delaware looking to buy a home, Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) has launched a new website that provides convenient and detailed information about the authority’s homeownership programs and the home-buying process. The website, www.kissyourlandlordgoodbye.com, connects potential homebuyers in the state with resources on low interest mortgage loans, down payment assistance, the Delaware First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and more.

“Purchasing a home can be one of the most rewarding decisions someone can make. Owning a home can provide a sense of security, independence and pride,” said DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi. “In addition to the benefits owning a home has for the individual or family, we also know that encouraging homeownership helps strengthen and support our communities and can reduce crime. This new website will be an invaluable tool for DSHA and will allow us to help more Delawareans achieve the dream of homeownership.” 

“This is an incredible resource for our customers,” said Don Byrom Jr. (NMLS#709360), a loan officer at M&T Bank, CRA Mortgage Division. “We often hear from those looking to buy a home that they are unsure of where to start in the process. DSHA’s new website will now be that starting point where potential homebuyers can go for more information to begin their journey to buying a home.”

For potential homebuyers who are ready to take the next step in the process, DSHA’s new website provides information on participating lenders, housing counselors and realtors who work directly with the authority to offer homeownership loans and down payment and closing cost assistance.

DSHA officially unveiled the new website at the 2019 Delaware Homebuyer Fair on April 13, where more than 400 potential homebuyers received information on finding properties, obtaining low-cost financing, down payment assistance, home inspections and maintenance and budgeting.