County program gets its start

Sussex County Council last week approved the first project being developed under its Moderately Priced Rental Program — a program designed to stimulate affordable rental housing for the county’s working citizens.

“I see a rental market being needed, with the foreclosures, as much as anything right now, because of the number leaving their homes and having to find somewhere to live,” said William Lecates, director of Community Development and Housing for the county.

The project, Arbors of Cottage Dale, is a 32-unit development in the Lewes area, that will contribute 40 percent of the units to the county’s program.

This is a start to help people that need help. Those eligible to take advantage of the program must live and work in Sussex County for at least one year before applying, maintain the unit as a primary residence and earn 30 to 80 percent of the area’s median income.

It is a program to help working families that are struggling, or simply can’t find affordable housing in the area — a common plight amongst many working-class members of the community. It is not a hand-out, and can be beneficial to the developers who apply, as an additional 20 percent bonus density is awarded to those projects who qualify.

“We’re testing the waters with this application,” explained Lecates. “With the market, it seems surprising that (even) this one has come forward.”
Hopefully, this inspires more projects to do the same.

The rental market is tough in this community, particularly for our slice of the county east of Route 113.

Developers have to absorb huge costs when purchasing land, and the most consistent and significant revenue available in return is to build homes and sell them. Rental costs of houses are more expensive than apartments and many working-class members of the community find affordable rental properties few and far between without a lengthy commute.

We’re excited to see how the Arbors of Cottage Dale does, and we believe many developers are watching, as well. This could be a steady-stream income for years for developers who build these rental units, and one that will keep the county a vibrant and diverse community.