Building and Sustaining a Stronger, More Prosperous Delaware

Revitalizing Delaware Downtowns

Dover, DE – In the weeks ahead, the Governor’s office will release a series of videos highlighting the progress the state has made over the past eight years through the voices of Delawareans. They will address ways in which the lives of Delawareans today, and generations to come, are being affected by efforts to strengthen our schools, develop cleaner and more efficient energy, make the state a safer and more welcoming place for all people, improve recreational and cultural options, and create more economic development and opportunity.

In conjunction with today’s event recognizing Homeownership Month, the below video addresses the impact of one initiative: the Downtown Development Districts program, which has leveraged almost $10 million into $160 million in private investment across all three counties. Through the DDD program, the state is encouraging private developers to re-invest in Delaware’s downtown areas. In Downtown Dover, as you’ll see below, the program already is helping support new, affordable homeownership opportunities.

In addition to improvements as a result of the DDD program, the Delaware State Housing Authority has continued to promote homeownership through low-cost mortgage loans, its down payment assistance programs and first-time homebuyer tax credits. Since 2009, more than 5,500 Delaware families have purchased a home with DSHA assistance, and growth of Delaware’s homeownership rate has outpaced regional and national trends. Access to low rates and settlement assistance through DSHA’s programs helped sustain demand through the economic recovery.

Excerpts from the video:

“As we start to transform some of the neighborhood blocks, bring in homeownership and provide affordable housing that helps to stabilize the area makes the business investment more attractive,” Ann Marie Townshend, Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Dover, said. “We’re working equally as hard to work with the business community to bring in additional businesses to get some of the commercial properties renovated and built.”

“What we’re able to do is create that affordable homeownership by keeping the cost of construction down and by also raising funds to use the DDD funds and leveraging those to other organizations, so we can make this affordable homeownership possible,” Jonathon Gallo, Executive Director of Central Habitat for Humanity, said.

“I think the state should always invest in their communities. This isn’t a bad place,” Alicia Jarvis, Kirkwood Street Homeowner, said. “Dover is a great place and what I see what’s coming along on this street alone is an awesome experience.”

The video series will be released via email as well as on the Governor’s YouTube channel. This week’s video is available on:

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Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Opportunities to Promote Homeownership

Wilmington, DE – In his weekly message, Governor Markell talks about the benefits of homeownership and the effort to expand those opportunities through access to credit and financing assistance and financial literacy education, and partnerships among government, non-profits and the business community to drive accessible and affordable housing development statewide.

“Owning a home is part of the American Dream. Promoting homeownership is a good way to improve peoples’ lives, and the Delaware State Housing Authority has led our effort to expand those opportunities through programs like our first-time homebuyer tax credit and the Home Again initiative for repeat homebuyers,” Governor Markell said. “Our Downtown Development Districts are providing incentives to developers to build near employment centers and close to public transportation, and we’ve increased homeownership opportunities for Delawareans across income levels. These initiatives demonstrate the good we can do by working across agencies, with not-for-profits and the business community to solve problems for real people, and thanks to these partnerships Delaware’s homeownership rate today is the third highest in the country. That’s an advantage as we compete in the global marketplace for new businesses and new jobs. And that will keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

By email: Please contact our press team to subscribe to our press list

Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Expanding Opportunities to Promote Homeownership

Small Grants Help Revitalize Downtown Dover

New round of funding announced for Downtown Development District program

Dover, DE – Joined by officials from the City of Dover and Kent  County, Governor Markell and Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi today recognized the first recipients of small project grants that were made available through the Governor’s Downtown Development District (DDD) initiative. These grants were made available to support key investments of up to $250,000 one of the three current DDDs – Dover, Seaford, and Wilmington.

“The purpose of the DDD initiative is to accelerate revitalization in areas marked by issues like high poverty, high unemployment, and low homeownership,” said Governor Markell. “By leveraging state and local resources with the entrepreneurialism of private investors, the goal is to provide the extra boost needed to make great economic development opportunities a reality. In doing so, we can help turn these distressed areas into vibrant downtowns that attract talented people, innovative small businesses, and long-term residents.”

Today’s announcement, which follows the awarding of $5.6 million for projects investing more than $250,000, recognized John and Karen Marble, and Carmen Hardcastle, for their effort to improve the homeownership inventory in the Dover DDD.  Mr. and Mrs. Marble constructed a new home on a vacant lot on Mary Street in Dover, while Ms. Hardcastle rehabbed an existing home on N. Kirkwood Street.  These two awards are part of $1 million set aside for smaller projects in each of the DDDs.

Governor Markell and Director Ben Addi also announced the launch of the second round of funding for the program, making $8 million available for investments in the previously designated areas of Wilmington, Dover and Seaford.  Funds will be made available to support rehabilitation, expansion or new construction of commercial, industrial, residential (including multi-family), and mixed-use buildings or facilities located within the boundaries of a DDD.

“The City of Dover and Kent County have both been tremendous partners in the DDD effort and we thank them for their ongoing support,” added DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi.  “Small projects, like the ones completed by the Marbles and Ms. Hardcastle, help to keep families living in, and contributing to, the economies of our downtown areas. We want to continue to streamline the process so as many people as possible can access these funds to support investment in the downtown areas and encourage growth.”

Kent County Levy Court Commissioner Brad Eaby commented, “I am a firm believer that today’s challenges are best solved through the combined efforts of the government, the private sector and nonprofit organizations.  Our collective assets and wisdom can be harnessed to conquer the task at hand. DDD’s are a prime example of this approach.”

“We are really excited that the first three projects in Dover address three different goals of our district: new housing stock, renovation of existing housing stock, and restoration of an historic building for a new business,” noted Tim Slavin, City of Dover Council President. “And we know this is just the beginning. With the DDD program and the commitment of the City and its partners, we know we have a recipe for long-term success.”

DDD Grant recipient John Marble said, “Downtown Dover has always had a special place in our hearts. Whether it be our leadership and participation in Sidewalk Sunday School or the board of directors for Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, we feel that participation in these various groups is an excellent way to turn the tide downtown. But most of all, it all boils down to the private sector investing and engaging with the various conflicts and challenges posed.”

DSHA has established two funding set-asides for DDD Grant Awards, one for small projects with an investment of less than $250,000, and another for investors of over $250,000. The Reservation applications for both Large Projects and Small Projects are available online. Projects seeking a Large Project reservation must apply by December 1, 2015. Small Project reservations and applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis as long as funding remains available.

For more information about the Downtown Development District Grant Program, please visit or call 888-363-8808.


New Incentive Announced to Help Delaware Place Top Educators in High-Need Classrooms

State Housing Authority and Department of Education partner to offer lower first mortgage interest rates to Delaware Talent Cooperative members

With some of the state’s top teachers set to gather tonight to discuss strategies to best address the needs of students in high-need schools, Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) is announcing a new initiative to help encourage top educators to work in these communities.

DSHA has partnered with the Department of Education (DOE) to offer reduced interest rates on mortgages for teachers in the Delaware Talent Cooperative, a group of high performing educators who have committed to work in schools with a significant proportion of disadvantaged students. Through part of the state’s top-ranked federal Race to the Top grant, DOE has been offering financial incentives for top teachers to participate in this effort. The DSHA incentive, which will be discussed at tonight’s Talent Cooperative kickoff event at Dover High School, is another important step to enhance the Talent Cooperative’s mission of fulfilling the administration’s priority to attract and retain top teachers for high need schools.

As a result of DSHA’s commitment, members of the Co-Op who qualify for a DSHA mortgage loan will receive a 0.5 percent reduction on a new loan, helping to make homeownership more affordable for the state’s highest-performing educators.

DOE recently announced 168 educators earned recognition and incentives as part of the Delaware Talent Cooperative’s second cohort.

“We know teacher quality is the number one school-related factor in our students’ classroom success and we want to make it possible for our top teachers to serve all of our students, so I’m pleased to see that the number of educators in the Delaware Talent Cooperative has grown,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Affordable housing is always a key component in recruitment and retention of talented individuals in any field. DSHA’s involvement with this initiative represents another important way we can show our commitment to encouraging the best teachers to live in Delaware and give our children the opportunities they deserve.”

DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi said, “DSHA is really proud that we have the internal operating capacity and resources available to make this interest rate reduction available to support the Governor’s and Department of Education’s initiative

“By offering this additional incentive, we are excited to help give our best educators the opportunity to buy homes, put down roots and stay here in Delaware to continue their careers,” he said.

This new incentive offers a one half of one percent (equal to 50 basis points) off DSHA’s current mortgage interest rate to members of the Delaware Talent Cooperative. The incentive can be used with any DSHA first mortgage program for first-time or repeat buyers. Individuals looking to take advantage of this reduced rate also may participate in DSHA’s down payment and closing cost assistance programs, with the interest rate reduction applying solely to the first mortgage. For an average buyer purchasing $200,000 home with a 30-year fixed interest mortgage, this lower rate can save more than $700 each year amounting to more than $21,000 over the life of loan.

“We are proud that through this partnership we can offer another incentive to keep these top educators working in some of our highest-need schools,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “Their talents and hard work are making a difference for children across our state, and we are grateful for this opportunity to support them.”

Homeownership is one of the cornerstones of the economy, of communities and of families. This new program will serve as an additional incentive for teachers to choose to teach and live in the First State.

At tonight’s second Annual Delaware Talent Cooperative Convening kickoff at Dover High School, members of the cohort will gather for roundtable conversations to discuss strategies for success and to answer questions about the initiative. Governor Markell and Secretary Murphy plan to address the educators.

The initiative recognizes some of Delaware’s highest-performing educators and ensures they will continue to work or move to work in some of the state’s highest-need schools for at least two years. It is based on research that shows financial incentives are effective at increasing the retention of high-performing educators in high-need schools, which in turn is important for raising school-wide student achievement. The Delaware Talent Cooperative complements the state’s Reward and Recognition school efforts, which provide school-wide financial awards (that also can be used for incentives) to top-performing schools.

In this second round of this initiative, DOE, in collaboration with participating schools and districts, identified top-performing principals, assistant principals and teachers in all subject areas whose students demonstrated achievement gains and invited them to make a two-year commitment to continue to work or move to work in the participating high-need school.

Cohort members of the Delaware Talent Cooperative interested using DSHA mortgage program can call (888) 363-8808 or visit for more information.

About the Delaware State Housing Authority

The Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA), formed in 1968, is dedicated to providing quality, affordable housing opportunities and appropriate supportive services to low- and moderate-income Delawareans. In addition to its role as the State’s Housing Finance Agency, DSHA is unique in that it also serves as a Public Housing Authority and acts as a Community Development and Planning Agency. As a Public Housing Authority, DSHA receives funding from HUD to build, own, and operate public housing in Kent and Sussex counties, two of Delaware’s three counties.