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Sussex County launches a Housing Trust Fund

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A new Sussex County initiative to improve access to affordable housing is underway.

Sussex County is now taking applications for funding from the trust fund designed to address a lack of affordable home options downstate.

The Sussex Housing Trust Fund stems from recommendations made in a 2019 housing study of the housing affordability issue in Sussex County.

Brandy Nauman is director of Community Development & Housing in Sussex County. She says the program originally started with $500,000 in county funding, but got a boost from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“So about six and a half million dollars was put into the trust fund,” Nauman explained. “And that allows us to expand what we were able to offer households with the direct downpayment and closing cost assistance as well as increasing the funding available to developers of affordable housing. And instead of a revolving fund it will be a grant program.”

Individuals with 120 to under 65 percent of area median income are eligible to apply for one-time forgivable loans ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 to help pay for housing.

The loan will be forgiven after 10 years of living in a home purchased through the fund.

Developers can apply for grants running from from $50,000 to $500,000 per project. to help increase affordable housing stock, with the stipulation that homes built are marketed toward low-income buyers.

Nauman says she’s excited the county is taking steps to tackle this issue.

“Homes for purchase, especially on the eastern side of the county are just unattainable for folks in our workforce,” said Nauman. “So to me, we have a lot of development, the ability to incorporate affordable units within those projects is what I think is really important. And having that mix and diverse socioeconomic status in each development is really important.”

Qualified individuals can submit applications until April 29th. Information on the application process is available on the Sussex County government’s website at https://sussexcountyde.gov/housing-trust-fund.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021