Released: January 25, 2024
The Delaware County Housing Coalition, in collaboration with the Foundation for Delaware County, presented a three-part status report on January 24 regarding housing issues facing Delaware County residents. Attendees included members of the coalition, elected officials, numerous community stakeholders and members of the public.
Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor opened the presentation, outlining the Housing Coalition's approach. “This Coalition developed three sub-groups: One for the unhoused community, one for affordable rental housing, and one focused on home ownership,” adding “Our goal has been to assess the state of housing in Delaware County, and to determine how this Coalition can use resources to help our residents live in a home that is safe, healthy, and affordable.”
Formed in early 2023 through the efforts of Delaware County Council, the Foundation for Delaware County, and State Senator Tim Kearney, the Delaware County Housing Coalition’s mission is to tackle issues of affordable housing and homelessness in the County through a broad partnership of agencies and organizations that has grown to include over 90 organizations in less than a year.
Delaware County’s Unhoused Community
Sandra Garrison, Chief of Social Services and Community Programs, presented on the County’s unhoused population, reporting that the need for stable housing and shelter was increasing, and that improved funding, staffing, and shelter would be necessary to address the issue. More than 300 individuals experienced homelessness in the previous year, with more than 100 families on waiting lists to get into shelters.
To achieve the Coalition’s vision of where homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring—and where residents live with dignity and respect in a home of their choosing—three immediate priorities were identified. These include:
Among ideas to address these priorities, Ms. Garrison reported the Coalition was examining various ideas, including the possibility of acquiring used buildings (e.g., closed schools and hospitals) for temporary housing, exploring alternate housing ideas such as co-housing and tiny homes, creating one-stop intake and info centers in locations across the county, and improving engagement with landlords, increasing wraparound services, financial education, and eviction services.
Affordable Rental Housing in Delaware County
Jordan Casey of the Foundation for Delaware County presented on affordable rental housing, reporting that Delaware County is home to 177K renters, meaning roughly one in three residents are renters. Despite the aging housing stock in the County, rental prices in the county are increasing and are higher than other counties in the state. Mr. Casey noted that a two-bedroom apartment in Delaware County now averages $1,470/month, meaning a Delaware County resident would need to earn $58,800 to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market prices.
Three priorities to address issues of affordable rental housing were presented, including:
“Currently, there is an average of 20 eviction filings per day. We are advocating for evictions to be rare and occur only in the most unavoidable circumstances, said Mr. Jordan. “The eviction diversion program we hope to institute, aims to keep families, seniors, and individuals in their homes, and to address the underlying issues that lead to the evictions.”
Affordable Homeownership in Delaware County
Philip Welsh, Director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, presented on affordable homeownership, with a focus on identifying obstacles facing Delaware County residents in acquiring and maintaining home ownership and providing sensible and realistic initiatives to support home ownership through current and new stakeholder groups. In 2023, Delaware County had the second most foreclosures per housing unit in the state.
Three priorities addressing affordable homeownership were identified, including:
To address these priorities, the Coalition is looking at a variety of possible ideas, including the expansion of the Whole Home Repair Program, the creation of mortgage foreclosure diversion programs, the examination of co-housing policies, increased publicity surrounding the Homestead Exemption Program, and working with municipalities to promote alternatives to single-family detached dwellings. Other ideas reported by the Coalition included improved translation resources, outreach to faith-based groups, and creation of a listserv to facilitate resident education to better empower residents looking to purchase and maintain homes within the County.
Council Chair Taylor acknowledged that while much work had been done, much remained to help Delaware County residents. “This is not the end,” said Dr. Taylor of the assessments conveyed through the presentation. “This is a beginning.”
Meeting Available on the Delaware County YouTube Channel
The Delaware County Housing Coalition presentation can be viewed on the Delaware County YouTube channel at DelcoPA.Gov/HousingCoalition.
Delaware County Council and the Foundation for Delaware County wish to express our gratitude to all Coalition participants, stakeholders, and public attendees for contributing to a constructive and successful event.