New Castle County Executive reports progress in cutting number of vacant homes

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(Before and after photos of the Minquadale home)

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer reported major progress of New Castle County’s Vacant Spaces to Livable Places initiative at a Tuesday event.

The program, launched in 2017, has converted more than 700 homes or vacant lots into affordable housing and collected more than $3.4 million in back taxes, fees, and fines. The program has resulted in in a 53% decrease in vacant properties county-wide. More than $1.7 million of the $3.4 million will be returned to New Castle County school districts, according to Meyer.

A tight housing market in recent years has also helped in reducing vacancies.

“This has been a herculean effort, spanning across numerous branches and governmental bodies, and incredible teamwork from multiple departments in New Castle County government,”  Meyer stated. “When we launched this program, we heard directly from neighbors and communities who were being impacted directly and to be able to increase their quality of life is remarkable.”

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The announcement took place in Minquadale off Dupont Highway in the New Castle area at a home that will soon be open as a transitional housing for young women aging out of foster care. The property will be owned and managed by Duffy’s Hope. 

“Addressing housing insecurity for youth aging out of foster care and young people that are navigating the vicissitudes of life is central to our approach to build better neighborhoods,” stte Sen. Darius Brown said. “The funds we awarded are the building blocks to the help and hope that Duffy’s Hope offers our children. With stable housing we are removing one of the impediments to them realizing their fullest potential and all the opportunities afforded to them in the second senate district.”

The program was recognized with a national award at the 2023 National Association of Counties conference awards ceremony.

County Executive Meyer formed the New Castle County Vacant Housing Working Group to have all county departments work on the issue.

Funding also includes a $100,000 grant from the Delaware State Housing Authority to be applied towards the maintenance of vacant properties, a $1.3 million grant from the Delaware State Housing Authority to develop and rehabilitate properties along the Route 9 corridor, and a $25,000 planning grant from the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) to develop community plans for Edgemoor Gardens and Sparrow Run, both of which have high rates of vacancy, crime and blight.

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