Charlestown Place – Innovative Approach to senior housing
Outline of Need:
The key word in Sussex County Delaware is “Affordable Housing” and that is exactly what Better Homes of Seaford, Inc. had in mind when they bought an abandoned sewing factory that was last operated by Kim Manufacturing from 1993 to 1996, and turned it into 11 comfortable apartments for the elderly. The renovated building is called Charleston Place in Seaford, DE. Better Homes of Seaford is a non-profit housing organization that develops rental housing for low and moderate income persons in western Sussex County.
How Rural Development Helped:
Better Homes of Seaford acquired the old sewing factory building about 5 years ago. It is estimated that for 56 years 150 sewing machines hummed along in the building providing jobs for nearly 200 workers in the rural area. The renovation project began in 2003 and cost $1.5 million to complete. USDA Rural Development provided a loan in the amount of $600,000 at 5-3/4% interest. The loan is amortized over a 50 year period to make payments affordable. The remaining funds for the project were provided by the Delaware State Housing Authority and local banks.
For USDA Rural Development, this rental housing project is unique: 1) there is no rental assistance in this property; Better Homes of Seaford opted not to have rental assistance so that rents would be kept closer to market rate to reach a segment of the population that normally doesn’t qualify to be occupants of our subsidized properties. 2) Unlike most of our financed properties, all units have a washer and dryer in them, in lieu of a laundry area that serves all the tenants. And, 3) it is the first time in over a decade, through Rural Development’s Multi-Family Housing program in Delaware, that an old building has been restored into apartments.
On January 9, 2006, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held bringing together the community and local, state and federal officials, including Congressman Michael Castle. It was mentioned that 9 out of 10 developers probably wouldn’t take on a project of this nature, and not only is the renovation and reuse innovative, but the approach to providing affordable housing should serve as a model throughout Sussex County. Mayor Daniel Short said, “To buy land and build something new is easy, but to take a building and find a new use for it is more difficult.”
The property is 100% occupied and rents for these apartments run from $345to $580 serving seniors from 50% to 80% of MHI. There are three one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments plus an office and a community room in the building. The residents have an internal hallway allowing them to visit one another without leaving the building.
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