The State of Housing in the First State
A new affordable housing development is almost complete, creating a frenzy of interest in the affordable units available for rent. Coastal Tide Apartments is the first project to participate in Sussex County’s Rental Program (SCRP), and to say that residents are interested is an understatement - though it’s no surprise why.
In 2019, the Housing Alliance Delaware published a report that found a deficit of 1,990 affordable and available rental units in Sussex County. On top of that, the report estimated that it would take 93 hours at a minimum wage job to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the current fair market rent in the County. If those hours couldn’t be met, a Delaware family would have to earn $16.61/ hour to afford the current average rent in the County.
The Solution: Sussex County Rental Program
The Sussex County Rental Program (SCRP) “seeks to stimulate the provision of affordable rental housing for the residents of Sussex County,” according to their site. The program will use a lottery system to determine its first round of residents as well as to build out a waiting list. To be entered in the lottery, applicants must complete an online form before 1/22/2021. Per the website, “applicants will be sorted using a random number generator and listed in the order drawn. Units are then matched by proceeding down the list to the first household on the list that is the appropriate size for the unit available according to the appropriate-unit-size criteria established for the lottery.” Eligible tenants need to earn between 30% - 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) to qualify. Rents are calculated using 50% AMI and are based on the number of bedrooms per unit.
New Development Details
Coastal Tide Apartments is currently under construction and is expected to be completed this year. The program has committed that at least 13% of units in the apartment complex must be included in the County’s rental program. The program also requires that affordable units be integrated within the complex and not be significantly different from other units, which is a change of pace for many affordable housing projects. Adding in this clause is a great step forward for affordable housing efforts, but more importantly, it will allow the tenants residing in these units to feel like a part of the community. The affordable unit project includes six one-bedroom apartments, 10 two-bedroom apartments, and 10 three-bedroom apartments. The monthly rent will be $595 for one bedroom, $715 for two bedrooms, and $825 for three bedrooms. The average rent in Sussex County is $1,500, well above affordable housing rates, highlighting the struggles faced by low-income households.
How You Can Help Your Community
If you would like to help fight the good fight, check out the Sussex County’s Rental Program page where you can learn about upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. If you or a local developer you know is interested in applying for their community development efforts, check out the County’s developer application. Under the Sussex County’s Rental Program, developers receive a 20% bonus density, up to 12 units per acre, and an expedited project review - so let your developer friends know about this opportunity today!