WILMINGTON – Standing in a gym at the William Hicks Anderson Center last Tuesday, Mayor Mike Purzycki told a crowd, “My impression when I first came here was this isn’t right that this beautiful center is in the middle of such dysfunction.”
The center, located at Fifth and Madison streets, is the centerpiece of a West Side neighborhood where at least 30 shootings have occurred in the last six years – some with multiple victims and at least five fatalities.
One shooting occurred just outside the center where children play. Once, a woman took cover inside the center during a daytime shooting.
The center, which neighbors call simply “Hicks,” was the site of a celebration Tuesday as officials, social workers and bureaucrats gathered to celebrate the announcement of a $5.5 million investment from the Delaware Housing Authority’s Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund. The money will go to address vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties. Nearly half — $2.1 million — will go to nonprofits working in Wilmington.
The $5.5 million investment is expected to leverage an estimated $15 million in private or other funding.
“This funding will directly help families, cities, and towns across Delaware become stronger. When we put homes together, they become neighborhoods, safe places enriched by diversity where we collectively share in our cities’ growth and successes,” Gov. John Carney said.
“When families step into houses, they become homes – residences of refuge, centers of companionship, locations of learning, and places of worship. Home is where we celebrate our accomplishments and draw upon strength and support to face our challenges.”
In Wilmington, the Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank was awarded $645,000 to buy and clear blighted properties to make way for development. Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware was awarded $550,000 for building and rehabbing housing units. Wilmington Housing Partnership was awarded $205,000 for rehabbing units, and Inter-Neighborhood Foundation was awarded $200,000.
Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County was awarded $550,000 for 10 new units and one rehabbed unit.The New Castle County Department of Community Services will use $1.3 million to create 10 new housing units and rehab 17 units along the Route 9 corridor.
“For many people, their home is the largest investment they will ever have,” New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer said. “New Castle County will use these funds to enable more than two dozen families to own a home and we believe that will help drive other positive impacts, including improvements in educational achievement and health outcomes and reduce neighborhood crime.”
In Dover, the housing nonprofit NCALL was awarded $1 million to support 20 newly constructed homes in partnership with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.
In Milford, the Milford Housing Development Corporation was awarded $500,000 to lead the development of 10 new homes in neighborhoods surrounding the downtown.
The Laurel Redevelopment Corporation and its partners, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity and the Milford Housing Development Corporation, were awarded $500,000 to build 10 homes in the Old Town area.
Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, said applicants requested more than $8.2 million, but not all projects could be funded.
“These projects will be helping families and individuals who need housing while strengthening the neighborhoods in which they are located, revitalizing properties that have fallen into disrepair and bringing people back to live in them,” Ben Addi said.
The Housing Authority also designated $475,000 for the Vacant Property Maintenance Fund, which helps local governments clean up vacant and abandoned properties.
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