According to the Delaware Housing Coalition, the Fair Market Rent for a two bedroom apartment in Sussex County, Delaware is $1,012. This means that a full time worker must earn an hourly wage of $19.46, or work 94 hours per week at a minimum wage job, to make this rent affordable.Better Homes of Seaford (BHS), a nonprofit organization located in Seaford, Delaware, works hard to provide more affordable options for renters. One such option is Chandler Heights II. This 28 unit apartment community serves households that make 50% of the area median income or less. Occupants pay 30% of their income for rent, which varies depending on the circumstances of each renter.
During this past year, Chandler Heights II underwent a major redevelopment of the 24 existing 3-bedroom apartments and added 4 new 1-bedroom apartments, totaling 28. The redevelopment made sure the units are preserved and updated to current standards. The original structure was built in 1992, and was in need of an overhaul. There was some water damage, the electrical systems needed updating, and sprinkler systems needed to be added. BHS wanted to install energy efficient HVAC systems to make the utilities more cost effective. Square footage of the bedrooms and kitchens were increased, and additional handicapped accessible units were added.
"We haven't done a project in 22 years of which NCALL hasn't been a key factor. They provide us with expertise and staffing that we just aren't capable of doing." - Bill Roupp, Executive Director, Better Homes of Seaford
Undertaking a project of this size is a lot of work and very expensive involving multiple sources of funding. BHS was awarded low income housing tax credits from the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) and supplemental financing from USDA and DSHA. According to Bill Roupp, BHS's Executive Director, "We haven't done a project in 22 years of which NCALL hasn't been a key factor. They provide us with expertise and staffing that we just aren't capable of doing." NCALL helped BHS with the various financing applications and assisted them throughout the entire development and construction process. "To say that NCALL helps BHS with the applications sounds so simple, but the applications aren't simple; they are very complex and involved. The whole process is complicated. If you don't have a good application, you don't get funding."
Construction started November 2015 and was completed April 2016. A real plus is that USDA provides rental assistance for 22 of the units and Delaware State Housing Authority under its Section 811 program provides rental assistance for the remaining six units. Construction included new roofs, siding, storage rooms, sidewalks, handicap accessible playground, parking lot u-pgrade and a bus shelter. In addition to increasing the size of the units, the renovation included upgrading the bathrooms, kitchens and flooring. The heating/electrical/plumbing systems were all replaced.
Affordable apartments such as Chandler Heights II are critical for the residents and the community. "If these apartments didn';t exist, some of our residents would be homeless and the others would be living in run-down, dilapidated housing with slum lords managing them."