New Castle, DE – Today, New Castle County leaders, state and federal officials, housing counselors and homeowners marked National Homeownership Month by celebrating historic milestones in New Castle County-administered homeownership programs. During the event, officials and homeowners highlighted the impact public funding, financial literacy, counseling services and community partnerships have made in supporting the goal of homeownership and self-sufficiency for thousands of local families.
“For many, homeownership is the American Dream,” said County Executive Matthew Meyer. “Today we celebrate the first 4,000 New Castle County Families to realize that dream. And we thank HUD and DSHA for their partnership.”
With significant funding from the federal government through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and from the State of Delaware through the Delaware State Housing Authority, along with leadership and encouragement of members of New Castle County Council and partnership with non-profit housing counselors, New Castle County’s Department of Community Services administers a variety of homeownership programs for low and moderate income residents. Together, they have helped four thousand residents purchase their home and have funded the rehabilitation of hundreds of vacant and blighted homes. The milestones celebrated today include:
- 4,000 down payment and settlement assistance loans – The New Castle County Down Payment and Settlement Assistance program has leveraged federal Community Development Block Grant funds, private and New Castle County funds since 1992 to provide low interest loans (currently up to $5,000) to low and moderate income households. These loans cover a portion of down payment and settlement costs for the purchase of a home.
- 200 vacant and blighted homes rehabilitated and sold to local residents – Since 2008, New Castle County has used federal, state and private funding to acquire and rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight. The rehabilitated homes are sold to income-eligible homebuyers with 15 year deed restriction that require the home to remain owner occupied.
- 100 homes purchased through the County’s Workforce Housing (inclusionary zoning) programs – New Castle County’s innovative Workforce Housing Program is a public-private partnership that creates new homeownership opportunities for moderate income residents without expenditure of County, State or Federal taxpayer funds. It consists of a voluntary program that provides density bonuses and waivers to builders in exchange for designating additional workforce housing units that remain affordable through deed restrictions for an extended period of time, and a requirement that residential re-zonings include a certain percentage of Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDUs) for purchase by income-eligible homebuyers.
- 50 homes purchased through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) homeownership program – 1,800 families are served by New Castle County’s Housing Choice Voucher program, which leverages federal dollars to provide rental assistance to low-income residents. Many of these clients would otherwise be homeless, and many continue receiving HCV rental assistance payments for life. To support and encourage self-sustainability, HCV clients who complete housing counseling and obtain mortgage financing to purchase a home can continue to receive Housing Choice Voucher payments, which are applied to their mortgage, for up to 15 years, depending on their income. Note: The HCV program is income-qualified, so as income rises, a client receives less, and ultimately no, subsidy.
“Today, we are celebrating HUD's partnership with New Castle County in providing programs that have helped thousands of New Castle County residents attain homeownership and self-sufficiency,” stated Joseph J. DeFelice, Regional Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic region for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “We applaud the County for facilitating the rehabilitation and resale of 200 vacant and blighted homes to income-qualified homebuyers. That's a win-win for residents and their communities.”
“The State is pleased to work with partners like New Castle County to bring the dream of homeownership to thousands of Delaware families each year,” said Delaware State Housing Authority Director Anas Ben Addi. “The Strong Neighborhood Housing Fund is the centerpiece of a block-by-block approach to fighting blight and improving homeownership opportunities and has proven itself to be a valuable tool for DSHA and local communities.”
The event took place at a New Castle County-owned home in Garfield Park currently under renovation through financing from the State’s Strong Neighborhood Housing fund program and the County’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which target vacant and abandoned homes for rehabilitation and resale. Over the past decade, the County has purchased, rehabilitated and re-sold 25 homes in Garfield Park.
“It has been said that the best investment on Earth is Earth, and history tells us that homeownership is a path to wealth building for the middle class,” said New Castle County Councilman Penrose Hollins, whose leadership was instrumental in launching the county’s Down Payment Settlement Assistance Program and who has been a champion of the County’s innovative workforce housing program. “It is imperative that a government of the people do everything in its power to remove impediments to fair housing and to provide homeownership opportunities to all its citizens, and I’m proud to join in celebrating our progress in meeting this goal.”
Prior to completing a home purchase through New Castle County homeownership programs, all participants must complete a Homeownership Education Program with a New Castle County recognized HUD approved housing counseling agency. Nearly a dozen homeowners who purchased their homes through these programs attended today’s event, including Annette Ashman and Patricia Benton, who spoke about the value of these programs in giving them a hand up to fulfill their goal of homeownership. Officials also recognized Executive Director of Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware and longtime housing counselor Gladys Spikes for her role in supporting the Down Payment Settlement Assistance Program. Ms. Spikes provided housing counseling to the very first homebuyer who purchased a home with support from this program in 1992; 26 years later that homeowner remains in the home she purchased, and Ms. Spikes continues to provide housing counseling services.
Learn more about New Castle County’s homeownership programs at https://www.nccde.org/1207/Affordable-Housing.
Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462