COUNTY'S WORK TO IMPROVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROMPTS TWO NATIONAL AWARDS
New Castle County has been awarded the National Association of Counties’ (NACo) HOMESTEAD Awards for its work to revitalize the communities of Knollwood, north of Claymont, and Belvedere, outside of Newport.
County Executive Christopher A. Coons and Councilman Weiner will accept the awards on behalf of New Castle County next week at the annual NACo meeting, which is being held this year in Honolulu.
The HOMESTEAD Award recognizes county governments that excel in providing affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families, using federal funds from the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME).
"These awards recognize the effective work of two of our nonprofit partners, Interfaith Housing and the New Knollwood Civic Association. Together, we are revitalizing two of our older and strong neighborhoods that have been struggling to maintain their stability and quality of life," Coons said. "My hope is to expand our efforts and partnership with these and other county-based organizations to revitalize more communities and make homeownership possible for more working families across our county."
New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner plays an important and ongoing role in the county’s affordable housing projects. Councilman Weiner's involvement in community revitalization and affordable housing issues on a national level is recognized by his Presidential appointment to the NACo Presidential Housing Initiative Sustainable Housing Council.
"The NACo awards provide additional validation that the work we are doing here in New Castle County is both effective and relevant, both from a local and a national perspective," Weiner said. "Building a strong, diverse housing market that serves our population’s widely varied needs is an important part of ensuring that New Castle County is a great place to live, shop, work, play and pray."
New Castle County worked closely with the New Knollwood Civic Association to acquire, rehabilitate and resell seven houses so far in the neighborhood using a federal HOME grant of $625,000 to the county. The grant, along with support from other government agencies and private organizations, serve as subsidies that result in home-sale prices below what the market would otherwise dictate. The county also used a $30,000 federal grant to improve accessibility to the local community center.
The second award recognizes New Castle County’s work in partnership with Interfaith Housing Delaware to create new opportunities for lower-income families to purchase homes in Belvedere. In the past three years, as part of its work to build 20 new affordable homes in Belvedere, Interfaith has acquired 19 units, completed or begun construction on 10, and gone to settlement on eight. This neighborhood revitalization project has already begun to reduce the number of vacant lots, eliminate unsafe vacant housing, and build affordable homes.
This year Interfaith will partner with New Castle County to begin work in Dunleith. Working in tandem with Dunleith Civic Association, the plan is to acquire ten properties. In the first phase of this project, the County’s Department of Community Services will work with Interfaith to acquire, renovate and re-sell three properties.
Work on these communities is part of the county’s five-year plan to increase both the quality and quantity of affordable housing for purchase and rent. Today, Coons hosted the first meeting of the new Housing Strategy Task Force, which is focusing on building public-private partnerships and developing innovative ways to meet the goals set forth in the five-year plan.
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