Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki’s announcement of a $50 million program to improve the city’s housing stock flew under the media radar during a busy week in Dover and elsewhere.
The ambitious program, fueled with federal pandemic funding, ranges from new housing to demolition of properties beyond repair and programs that allow lower-income homeowners to make needed improvements.
Also, this week, County Executive Matt Meyer announced $32 million in affordable housing programs funded by American Rescue Act proceeds.
Purzycki’s program continues efforts to train and employ more city residents in home construction crews that too often roll in from outside the city.
His administration has struggled in previous efforts aimed at dealing with blighted properties while also finding ways to revive earlier failed redevelopment efforts that did not come with enough critical mass to make a difference in aiding struggling neighborhoods.
Neighborhood residents will be naturally suspicious, especially those living in areas subject to gentrification – new residents moving in and driving up rents and home prices.
Unlike Philadelphia, the effects of gentrification in Wilmington have been minimal, with redevelopment primarily confined to the Riverfront and downtown. Areas such as Quaker Hill and the once vibrant Trinity Vicinity remain in transition.
In Wilmington, good landlords will struggle with keeping rents affordable during a time of high inflation while working to make necessary improvements. Unfortunately, bad landlords will continue to procrastinate and litigate.
Violent crime casts a shadow over these efforts. However, Purzycki believes that improving neighborhoods, parks, and other areas with measures as simple as better lighting will discourage the wave of gun violence.
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