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Dover Interfaith purchases building to convert into affordable apartments

The vacant commercial building purchased by Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing on Division St. in Dover.
Paul Kiefer
Delaware Public Media
Dover Interfaith plans to convert a vacant commercial building on Division St. into affordable apartments.

After years of setbacks, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing purchased a building it plans to convert into long-term supportive housing and a new administrative office.

The capital’s largest shelter provider first took interest in the property on Division St. west of downtown in 2020, when it sought a new location for its men’s shelter. Dover City Council rejected a request from a property holding company working with Dover Interfaith to rezone the vacant commercial property to accommodate a shelter, prompting a lawsuit that the city recently settled.

Last November, the same property holding company made a new request to rezone the property to accommodate an array of uses, including residential. Notably, it would not allow the building to be used as a homeless shelter, and Dover Interfaith was not involved when the company presented its request.

Though some council members accused the company of concealing its plans for the site, council agreed to the rezoning, in part to avoid another lawsuit.

Last month, Dover Interfaith bought the property outright. Board Director Jeanine Kleimo says it plans to turn the space into affordable, low-barrier apartments and a service hub for its clients.

Last month, Dover Interfaith bought the property outright. Board Chair Jeanine Kleimo expects it will house roughly 30 people in apartments intended to serve as short- or long-term housing for people exiting homelessness.

“We want people to be able to stay there as long as they need," she said. "For example, some people have disabilities and it’s very difficult to afford anything, so they may stay longer than a young mother trying to get back on her feet."

Kleimo adds that the building will also house Dover Interfaith's case management programs.

Because of its proximity to Booker T. Washington Elementary School, the building will not be able to house people on the sex offender registry.

The building is one of several new projects launched by Dover Interfaith after the group received $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding in 2021. Kleimo expects the building to be renovated and move-in ready by next year.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.