Vacant Spaces to Livable Places

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New Castle County recognizes that vacant and abandoned properties become breeding grounds for crime, are targets for arson and become a health and safety hazard for their surrounding communities. These properties also drive additional costs to taxpayers by diverting public safety resources and forcing county government to pay for basic property maintenance, grass mowing, trash collection and illegal dumping. Additionally, vacant and abandoned housing has been shown to depress neighborhood property values and reduce tax revenues that fund critical public services.

But no more!  New Castle County’s Vacant Spaces to Livable Places program is an exciting new initiative that encourages the redevelopment of vacant properties into healthy, livable homes in order to remove community eyesores and stabilize neighborhoods.  Read more about it below.


County Executive Meyer announces National Association of Counties recognition of Vacant Spaces to Livable Places! 

2023_NACo_Achievement_Awards_Certificate_8-72VSLP is a multi-agency effort addressing vacant housing and repurposing properties for occupied homes and improved communities.

Since the beginning of the program, New Castle County has collected over $3.5 million in delinquent taxes and turned more than 700 vacant homes and lots into occupied homes.  

Each year, NACo’s Achievement Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and more. Launched in 1970, the program is designed to recognize innovation in county government. Each nominated program is judged on its own merits and not against other applications.

 “The Achievement Awards demonstrate excellence in county government and the commitment to serve our residents every day,” said NACo President Denise Winfrey. “This year’s winners represent some of the most innovative and collaborative efforts we have seen in over 50 years of presenting these awards.”

Read on by clicking here!

APA Conf - VacantsNew Castle County Leadership Presents Vacant Spaces to Livable Places at National American Planning Association Conference! 

In April 2023, New Castle County was invited to present the Vacant Spaces to Livable Places Program at the national American Planning Association Annual Conference in April 2023.  Held annually, and this year in Philadelphia, county officials presented the program to over 300 professional planners, engineers, government officials, and advocates.  

Representing New Castle County were:

  • Aundrea Almond, Chief of Staff
  • Richard Hall, AICP, Department of Land Use
  • Carrie Casey, Department of Community Services
  • Joseph Day, Department of Land Use

  1. The Program
  2. For Owners
  3. For Investors

home1Vacant and blighted properties, which can lead to increased crime and other unsavory behavior, are an important issue in maintaining and revitalizing healthy communities. Strategic management of vacant properties has been successful in addressing these issues, which in turn helps to preserve surrounding property values and reduce maintenance costs to local governments. 

County Executive Meyer formed the New Castle County Vacant Housing Working Group in an effort to have all county departments leverage their collective resources to address this growing problem.  In addition to the County Executive's Office, other working group members include the Departments of Land Use, Community Services, Law, Finance and Public Safety, as well as County Council and the Sheriff's Office. 

In addition to the utilization of county resources, several grants have been applied for and received by the County including a $100,000 grant from the Delaware State Housing Authority to be applied towards the maintenance of vacant properties, a $1.3 Million grant from the Delaware State Housing Authority to develop and rehabilitate properties along the Route 9 corridor, and a $25,000 planning grant from the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) to develop community plans for Edgemoor Gardens and Sparrow Run, which have very high rates of vacancy, crime and blight.

New Castle County’s vision is to create a program that allows vacant properties to be occupied by new homeowners or redeveloped without the need for a long foreclosure process or significant investment by taxpayers.

Success Stories

Collins Park before
Collins Park after
Edgemore1 before
Edgemore1 after
Rosegate before
Rosegate after
Kiamensi before
Kiamensi after
Wilmington Manor before
Wilmington Manor after
Manor Park before
Manor Park after

Vacantmap property in your neighborhood? 

The Department of Land Use has identified over 600 vacant properties, inclusive of abandoned structures and open lots.  If you suspect a vacant property in your neighborhood, please contact us at (302) 395-5555 or report it to our online property maintenance system.

bookExecutive and Legislative Authority

Vacant Spaces to Livable Places was created through a series of executive orders and enabling legislation.  Those documents can be found below.

New Castle County:

State of Delaware

  • House Bill No.187: Prequalification of Bidders: Allows any County or municipality to require bidders on tax lien sales to certify, prior to bidding, that they do not have a record of failing to maintain their property, do not have outstanding liens owed to governmental entities in excess of $1,000, and do not hold properties that have been vacant for 18 consecutive months unless there is active construction on the property.
  • House Bill No. 188: Lien Authority: Clarifies that costs associated with code enforcement is a lengthy and expensive process for local governments and liens for the enforcement may be collected in the same manner as property taxes. 
  • House Bill No. 139: Sewer Monition Authority: Removes the existing sewer monition method of sale in its entirety and will enable New Castle County to collect delinquent sewer service charges in the same manner as taxes are collected under the less burdensome and more efficient monition method of sale established by Chapter 87 of Title 9.