More renters become homeowners through expanded Habitat for Humanity partnership

Twelve new homes will be built on both sides of Bennett Street on Wilmington's East Side, continuing a pattern of revitalization in the area led by Habitat for Humanity and the City of Wilmington.

Ground was broken for five of the homes Friday morning. Across the street, seven more units are partially completed. They were started in 2015 but not completed by the Wilmington Housing Partnership.

Those seven units will also be completed by Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County.

For Marlise Carr, it's been a long wait. She first applied for Habitat in 2010, and was successful in her third try.

"It creates better opportunity for me, instead of throwing my money away every month," Carr said. "I can actually invest in something that's going to be around for generations that me and my children can have."

The need for affordable housing is constant and growing, according to HHNCC CEO Kevin Smith. He said one in seven Delawareans pay 50 percent or more of their income on housing.

"That's unsustainable," Smith said.

Mayor Mike Purzycki said the city is working with a reconstituted board of the Wilmington Housing Partnership to transfer the seven unfinished properties to Habitat for Humanity. 

Nema Bass, who has volunteered with the organization, is now approved to move into one of the Bennett Street homes.

"For the individual, it's great - and not just for the individual but our family. It's impacting us greatly," Bass said. "It's fulfilling our life dreams."

"The East Side is where we're making a long term commitment, not only for the homeowners that we've already seeded here but there's a lot of opportunity," Smith said. "I think the message is get in on the ground floor here because this is all about to change."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.