With the onset of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, businesses were shuttered and jobs disappeared as stay-at-home orders were issued for public safety.
On Monday, August 10, 2020, Delaware officials announced a $40 million shot in the arm to assist homeowners and renters struggling to meet the demands of bills that continued when jobs didn't. Governor John Carney said the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) and the Delaware Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (DEMAP) will focus on getting funds to individuals who need assistance maintaining a roof over their heads.
Surrounded by Anas Ben Addi, Director, Delaware State Housing Authority, Matt Meyer, New Castle County Executive, State Senator Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, State Representative Kendra Johnson, and Paul Calistro, Executive Director, West End Neighborhood House, Governor John Carney announced the restart of those two important programs.
"Part of our effort has been--a concerted effort by so many--to assist those who have been unemployed, those who are not working the hours that they did before, and don't have the resources to either pay their mortgage or to pay their rent," said Governor John Carney. "We've had several emergency orders which have stopped evictions and foreclosures, and we've had great cooperation from the private sector."
Those in need could be eligible for up to $5,000 in assistance to help make ends meet. The DEHAP program was put on hold temporarily due to demand and funding issues, but the supplemental CARES Act funding will provide the government the opportunity to provide more assistance.
"It was overwhelming," said Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. "What happened now with the $40 million is we are reopening the program. We're making it a little bit more streamlined, easy to use. So, it's $5,000 assistance for rentals. Who qualifies? Anybody who is a resident of the state of Delaware. There is an income guidelines and, if you fit the income guidelines, you can work with your landlord to submit an application through our online portal."
Applicants must have a maximum household income post-pandemic at or below 60% of the Area Median Income for the county in which they reside. Ben Addi said there's a video available on their site to walk visitors through the application process.
For the DEMAP program, applicants must own their home in Delaware and it must be their primary residence, and they must have a maximum household income post-pandemic at or below 80% of the Area Median Income for their county. For Sussex and Kent counties, that cutoff is $65,520, while in New Castle County it's $77,280.
To fund the programs, the state will use $20 million from its Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, with another $20 million coming from New Castle County's allotment.
"No one should lose their home, no one should be thrown out on the street, due to the inability to pay their rent or mortgage during a public health emergency," said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. "Six thousand applicants applied within the first three weeks [of the program's first run.] The program was, I think it's fair to say, overwhelmed. And it's really impressive leadership when we regroup, we recognize a good program that had a shortfall of funds, and we come together from different governments and we say how do we expand this program to benefit our residents?"
The programs are all about taking care of the First State's families and ensuring they continue to be able to live here, work here, and call Delaware home, Carney said.
"This, indeed, is about Delaware families. It is about the single mom trying to raise her child, uncertain about the opening of schools--we're working really hard on that. It's about families across our state that are living with uncertainty and fear around COVID-19 pandemic. Our obligation as public servants is to address both their health needs, as well as their economic and social needs," Carney said. "This is an important part of that. It's about addressing the fear and anxiety and concern about being able to stay in your rental house, or to be able to pay your mortgage and get to the other side. We will get to the other side. We're going to crush this virus; we're going to flatten that curve; we're going to get healthier; we're going to get our children back to school in front of teachers getting the kind of instruction that they need and deserve; we're going to get people back to work. We're going to get through all this."
For more information, visit DEStateHousing.com's COVID-19 information page.