Home | En Español | Contact Us | A to Z 

2000 Best Practice Awards

Best of the Best Winner: Delaware

Best Practice: Wilmington Housing Project

Partnership Develops Housing Program for First-Time Homebuyers

Wilmington, Delaware. Many of the residents of Wilmington are sleeping a little better now—secure in homes of their own. Some of these homes were once vacant and abandoned; others just needed a little attention. Thanks to the involvement of several people, their walls are once again vibrant with the sounds of life. The Wilmington Housing Partnership, a consortium of financial, corporate and governmental institutions, has breathed life into these neglected residences once again.

Wilmington’s challenges are not unlike those of other U.S. cities. In 1990, 31 percent of

Photo of Jane Vincent/Bob Weer receiving Best of the Best award
Jane Vincent/Bob Weer (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

Wilmington’s 28,500 households faced housing problems, ranging from affordability to overcrowding, with low-income house-holds facing the most acute housing challenges. The city felt that it had to take immediate action to address these problems by developing programs to increase homeownership, make housing more affordable to all segments of the population, and provide assistance to elderly homeowners with renovation efforts.

The partnership started because its founders saw a need within a city and came together to address it. The Wilmington Housing Partnership is a shining example of how governmental, financial, nonprofit organizations, and private industry can work together to improve housing in one city.

Among the Wilmington Housing Partnership’s accomplishments:

  • Offered down payment and settlement assistance to 210 first-time home buyers
  • Generated over $4 million in private financial support for the project
  • Provided $1.2 million to private and non-profit developers for construction of 231 homes
  • Developed a tax waiver program to assist 37 first-time homebuyers
  • Held a city-wide auction to assist low- and moderate-income buyers in purchasing homes
  • Rehabilitated more than 400 owner-occupied housing units to comply with city code
  • Provided emergency home repair assistance to 28 senior citizens
  • Rehabilitated 19 owner occupied and 11 rental units through state programs.

Contact: James Sills, Phone: (302) 571- 4100
Tracking Number: 951
Winning Category: Program (Community Planning and Development)

Best Practice: Delaware Rural Housing Consortium

Delaware Builds Low-Income Housing in Rural Areas

Dover, Delaware. Seven nonprofit rural housing organizations have come together as The Delaware Rural Housing Consortium to accomplish collectively what they could not accomplish alone. Rural nonprofit developers, and the people they serve, are often isolated and have little access to resources thus reducing their effectiveness in addressing the housing needs of the homeless, the very low income and special needs populations. Rather than compete for scarce resources, consortium members set out to form a state-of-the-art collaborative to coordinate housing development activities to better serve those in need. The seven

Photo of Karen Speakman receiving award from Secretary Cuomo & Deputy Secretary Ramirez
Karen Speakman (c) receiving Best of the Best award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)

organizations comprising the consortium share grant writing, government contacts, training and education and work together to creatively solve problems.

While consortium members could have focused their efforts on a variety of areas, members have chosen to serve those with the greatest housing needs and the least chance for improved housing. In Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware, circumstances for rural nonprofit developers and the communities they serve are dire. Most households served by the consortium are very low-income, living between 50 percent-80 percent below the area’s median income. Modest paying jobs in the fast food, service and poultry processing sectors dominate rural Delaware. Most smaller communities and rural county governments have difficulties funding public utilities, yet these systems are necessary for affordable housing. Few national foundations are geared toward rural development, and fewer corporations, banks and large employers exist in rural Delaware resulting in less access to corporate charity.

Yet with the odds against them, the consortium’s efforts have resulted in increased awareness of rural housing needs and successes through: 1) its video, “More Than Bricks and Mortar;” 2) its report, “Ten Ways to Increase the Supply of Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Delaware;” 3) a rural housing summit held last fall; 4) the Rental Housing Investment Certificate concept to reduce rent for lower income households and 5) the 3-Year Housing Development Plan which will have a dramatic impact on 750 lower income house-holds in rural Delaware through the building of new housing units and assistance to renters and first-time homebuyers.

Critical to its sustainability, the consortium has also gained support from the foundation and banking communities. The Longwood Foundation helped provide initial funding to launch the consortium. Providers of affordable housing such as the USDA, HUD, the Delaware State Housing Authority and the Delaware Community Investment Corporation have provided financing for the 11 housing projects within the Three Year Housing Development Plan. Delaware banks such as Chase Manhattan, Greenwood Trust Company and the Wilmington Trust Company are supporting the consortium through corporate contributions and lending of construction financing to projects in the Development Plan. The banking community is also helping to structure the Rental Housing Investment Certificate.

With its successes in increasing awareness about affordable housing combined with the support of the banking and foundation communities, the consortium has proven that is possible to accomplish collectively what individually could not be done alone.

Contact: Joe Myer, Phone: (302) 678-9400
Tracking Number: 1048
Winning Category: Geographic

Return to Best Practices 2000 Best of the Best Winners

Content Archived: April 20, 2011

FOIA Privacy Web Policies and Important Links [logo: Fair Housing and Equal 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Telephone: (202) 708-1112 TTY: (202) 708-1455