August 9, 2022
The City of Wilmington Issues Mid-Year Update on its ARPA Neighborhood Plans
Community investment funds are being distributed and affordable housing efforts are underway with the involvement of minority contractors
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki today issued a mid-year update on the City’s neighborhood revitalization plan, which is backed largely with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act [whitehouse.gov] (ARPA). The Mayor said progress is underway on the City’s East Side, where the Administration’s citywide neighborhood efforts are initially focused on the area from 4th to 11th streets and Walnut to Church streets. Mayor Purzycki said progress is also being made regarding the Administration’s goal of ensuring that minority contractors, developers, and workers have access to the ARPA-funded projects and jobs being created through the rebuilding of City neighborhoods.
The City today also provided a summary of the ARPA appropriations that have been made thus far to various community-based organizations to further the Administration’s ARPA neighborhood revitalization goals as well as other goals, including community investment and building safer communities by reducing gun violence.
The City maintains regularly updated ARPA pages on its website that enable the public to track ARPA projects and spending. These include:
•ARPA Home Page [stories.opengov.com]: an overview of ARPA funds and how they are spent
•ARPA Spending Tracker [stories.opengov.com]: details about ARPA-funded projects and expenditures
•Neighborhood Revitalization [stories.opengov.com]: specific neighborhood project details
•Minority-owned Contractors and DBEs: a site for minority contractors, developers, and workers so they know what projects are available for bid or being prepared for bid
Preparing Minority Contractors for Neighborhood Projects
In partnership with EDiS Company [ediscompany.com], monthly workshops are offering training about construction business basics to the minority firms who have either accepted an invitation to participate from the City’s Economic Development Office or have learned about the workshops from the Jumpstart Program [jumpstartwilmington.org]. There is no charge to attend the workshops, which are held at the City’s Emergency Operations Center on South Heald Street. Topics discussed include blueprint reading of architectural drawings; blueprint reading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans; Jobsite safety; project scheduling; permitting and insurance; and bonds. To participate in these workshops, please call 311 to speak to the City’s Office of Economic Development.
Bridge Funding Available to Minority Contractors
The Wilmington Economic Development Corporation [wedco.org] has received $2 million in City ARPA funding to provide zero-interest bridge loans to minority contractors who do not have available upfront capital. This gap in funding will enable more minority-led businesses to participate in the City’s neighborhood plans.
Mid-Year Eastside Neighborhood Progress
Progress thus far has been accomplished largely through invaluable partnerships with the Wilmington Conservancy Neighborhood Landbank [wilmingtonlandbank.org], Woodlawn Trustees [woodlawntrustees.com], and Habitat for Humanity [habitatncc.org]. As an example, Bennett Street alone will have approximately 52 new construction units and ten rehab properties in the coming months. Other projects include:
•Eight demolitions have been completed with three sites scheduled for new construction and request for proposals (RFPs) pending. These include: 517 Shearman Street; 519 Shearman Street; 836 North Spruce Street; 840 North Spruce Street; 842 North Spruce Street; 807 North Church Street; 809 North Church Street; and 811 North Church Street
•There are nine pending demolitions (including two sites eligible for new construction, RFPs pending): 409 Shearman Street (a candidate for a side yard Land Bank disposition); 1000 Bennett Street; 1002 Bennett Street; 1012 Bennett Street: 1014 Bennett Street; 820 North Pine Street; 818 North Pine Street; 816 North Pine Street; and 814 North Pine Street
•Ten property stabilizations have been completed (i.e., new roof, hazardous materials removed, interior demolition): 838 Pine Street; 922 North Pine Street; 934 North Pine Street; 1006 Lombard Street; 603 East 10th Street; 630 East 11th Street; 738 East 11th Street; 507 Shearman Street; 529 East 9th Street; and 918 North Spruce Street
•Properties that are out for RFP and under contract for rehabilitation are: 3934 North Pine Street; 838 North Pine Street; and 603 East 10th Street
•Pending RFPs for property rehabilitation include: 16922 North Pine Street; 1006 Lombard Street; 630 East 11th Street; 738 East 11th Street; 507 Shearman Street; 918 North Spruce Street; 1007 Bennett Street; 1009 Bennett Street; 1011 Bennett Street; 1013 Bennett Street; 1021 Bennett Street; 1023 Bennett Street; 1025 Bennett Street; 1017 Bennett Street; 1024 Bennett Street; and 1030 Bennett Street
•Central Baptist Community Development Corporation [centralbaptistcdc.org] (CBCDC) has received ARPA funding for the rehabilitation of four units, with possible additional ARPA investment through CBCDC for development in the area of 10th and Lombard streets
•Partnership between the City, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District [nccvotech.com], and a local minority contractor to rehabilitate 529 East 9th Street
•Partnership between the City and a local minority contractor to clean eastside alleyways in the area from East 7th to East 11th streets and from Lombard to Pine streets. The alleyway cleaning program will provide jobs to local young people who are unemployed or underemployed
•Pilot streetscape/curb appeal project supported through $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding in the 500 Block of Taylor Street to include street paving, sidewalk repair, street lighting, and the planting of trees
•Habitat for Humanity’s Brush with Kindness program is seeded with $800,000 in ARPA, funds to assist homeowners with repairs to facades and roofs as well as plumbing and heating systems
•Soon there will be 33 more security and safety cameras installed in neighborhoods
Mayor Purzycki today also summarized the appropriation of ARPA funding to various organizations that are assisting with neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, building safer communities by reducing gun violence, and other forms of community investment. These include:
Under the category of Neighborhood Revitalization
Habitat for Humanity – $800,000
Funds are being used for the “A Brush with Kindness” program run by Habitat for Humanity, which offers critical home repairs to existing, low-income homeowners in the City of Wilmington. The aim is to make homes warm, safe, and dry through work on plumbing systems, roofs, HVAC systems, electrical systems, doors, and windows. The goal is to repair 100 homes.
Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank – $3.1 million
Funds will be used for the strategic demolition and stabilization of low-income housing units within Qualified Census Tracks. The City’s Department of Real Estate and Housing will closely track and monitor this work with the participation and assistance of EDiS. The Real Estate and Housing Department will ensure that the overall strategy of improving the housing stock in low-income neighborhoods in the City of Wilmington will be efficiently implemented.
Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank, Hilltop Initiative – $1 million
The recipient will use these funds to support the Lower Hilltop Affordable Housing Project, located on the City’s West Side. The initiative will strategically acquire 40 units within a 10-block radius on adjacent streets. The units will be on the following blocks: 1100 block of West 2nd Street; 1100-1200 blocks of West 3rd Street; 100-200 blocks of North Harrison Street; 100-200 blocks of North Franklin Street; 1100-1200 blocks of Pleasant Street; 1100-1200 blocks of Conrad Street; and the 200 block of North Van Buren Street. Located adjacent to the highly visible 4th Street Corridor, the Lower Hilltop Affordable Housing Project provides a significant opportunity to address the need for affordable housing and transform a community.
REACH Riverside Development Corporation – $1 million
Funds will be used by REACH Riverside [reachriverside.org] to support the community redevelopment of the Riverside neighborhood through the construction of 67 rental units on vacant land that was formerly public housing. The 67-unit phase will include 50 affordable and 17 workforce townhouse units in a mix of 1 to 4-bedroom units. All affordable units will receive operating subsidies enabling them to serve households at very low-income levels while creating a mix of incomes with the 17 workforce housing units.
Eastside Housing Partners LLC – $100,000
Eastside Housing Partners LLC [delaware-company.com] will use these grant funds for the strategic rehabilitation of four properties in a US Department of Housing and Urban Development Qualified Census Tract. This tract is located in the City’s historic East Side community. The project will involve the complete rehabilitation of four properties that will be sold as affordable housing.
Delaware Affordable Housing Group – $318,955
The Delaware Affordable Housing Group (DAHG), in conjunction with its parent organization, the [whadelaware.org]Wilmington Housing Authority [whadelaware.org] (WHA), is the largest provider of affordable housing in the City of Wilmington. DAHG will use these funds to repair facades, replace windows, repair/replace roofs, and repair concrete for 22 WHA-owned properties.
Cornerstone West CDC – $1,450,000
Cornerstone West CDC [westendnh.org] will use these funds in the following manner: $550,000 will be used for Commercial Corridor and Small Business Stabilization by revitalizing the physical appearance of corridors via streetscapes and storefront improvements, and by addressing vacant commercial properties via a combination of loans, incentives, and grants; $650,000 will be used for residential improvements to increase homeownership by repurposing residential vacancies, developing high-quality affordable housing, and supporting current homeowners with critical repairs; and $250,000 will be used for commercial and mixed-use development to acquire vacant properties for redevelopment.
Habitat for Humanity – $1 million
Habitat for Humanity will use the ARPA grant funds to construct twelve affordable homes on the 900 block of Bennett Street. The homes will be sold to qualified, first-time homebuyers at the appraised value, and Habitat will provide lending with 0% mortgages. The homes will be a mixture of 2-, 3-, and 4-bedrooms, with six of the units having off-street parking. In order to prepare for successful homeownership, qualified first-time homebuyers will have to attend mandatory educational training.
Wilmington Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO) – $2 million
Through the provision of low- or zero-interest loans, WEDCO will expand the financing mechanisms available for both long-term and short-term business capital needs with an extended emphasis on the needs of disadvantaged enterprises and individuals that traditionally have experienced barriers to affordable conventional commercial financing. The goals of the program are to: realize equitable access by disadvantaged businesses and individuals to capital; enhance the ability of more small businesses to participate in ARPA projects; encourage the reuse of vacant City buildings; emphasize more labor-intensive and productive uses for so-called underutilized land, particularly in or near economically disadvantaged communities in the City; emphasize the development or renovation of existing structures, which will result in the expansion of good wage-earning, labor-intensive occupations, and blue-collar jobs rather than the construction of capital-intensive projects that will be undertaxed and employ only a minimal number of workers.
Todmorden Foundation – $1 million
The Todmorden Foundation [todmordenfoundation.com] will use this ARPA grant to build ten new homes from 835 to 863 Bennett Street (on the odd-numbered side of the block). Newly constructed units will consist of two floors and include the construction of living space, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, all cabinetry associated with the kitchen, as well as a refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher. Hook-ups for washer and dryer units will be installed. The Director of Real Estate and Housing for the City of Wilmington will confirm that the construction and amenities are consistent with expectations in affordable housing units. After completion of the project, the homes will serve as affordable rental homes for City residents.
Latin American Community Center – $500,000
The Latin American Community Center [thelatincenter.org] will use these ARPA grant funds to build a two-and one-half-story Infant and Toddler Center on the corner of 4th and Van Buren streets and a youth playground on the comer of 4th and Harrison streets. This Education Expansion Project [thelatincenter.org] broke ground in October 2021 and is set for occupancy in January 2023. This Infant and Toddler Center will allow the LACC to increase the number of children served annually from 136 to 214. The playground will provide a safe outdoor environment that will combat high obesity rates among Latino children. This Infant and Toddler Center will also create 30 new permanent jobs, which will positively influence the economic development of the neighborhood.
Woodlawn Trustees – $1 million
Woodlawn Trustees will use these grant funds to renovate twenty vacant homes in Wilmington’s East Side Neighborhood (Qualified Census tracks 9 and 29). Renovation work includes, but is not limited to, lead abatement, roof repair and/or replacement, HVAC system repair and/or replacement, wall repair, interior and exterior paint, bathroom repair and/or replacement, kitchen repair and/or replacement, cabinet repair and/or replacement, flooring repair and/or replacement, and carpet repair and/or replacement. After completion of the project, the homes will serve as affordable rental homes for City residents.
Richard Dyton, Neighborhood Liaison – $21,000
Mr. Dyton is serving as a liaison between the Mayor’s office and the community specific to improving the City’s quality of life program, as well as a liaison between the Mayor’s office and the community specific to the home improvement construction projects, reviewing many projects funded by the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Southbridge Community Development Corporation – $250,000
The Southbridge CDC [southbridgecdc.org] will use grant funds for the SANKOFA Place housing development, a partnership between the Southbridge Community Development Corporation and Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County. The project involves the development of five new houses to be built on land located at New Castle Avenue and B Street in Southbridge. These will be new houses built for homeownership to assist current residents in Southbridge who may currently be renting housing or may be living with family and want to become a homeowner in the neighborhood.
Under the category of Community Investment
United Way of DE – $150,000
United Way of Delaware [uwde.org] will use these funds to support the Learning Pod Community of Practice program [doe.k12.de.us], which provides a continuum of in-school and out-of-school educational programming in partnership with the Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative [uwde.org]. The funds in this program are specifically dedicated to addressing the educational disparity among the most vulnerable students in the City of Wilmington. The program aims to correct the learning loss experienced by these students due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure a safe learning environment.
The Grand – $100,000
The Grand [thegrandwilmington.org]’s Gilliam Family Fund for Diversity Programming will serve the City’s communities by funding tickets for performances and related transportation for Wilmington schools with a significant number of low-to-moderate income students; supporting a dedicated consultant to develop increased diversity programming, and establishing an annual residency with artists who will offer community workshops as well as live performances in the Grand’s theaters.
Faithful Friends Animal Society – $95,000
Faithful Friends Animal Society [faithfulfriends.us] is a non-profit entity and an essential safety net organization providing animal welfare services to 24,000 people and 17,000 pets annually, with 20% of the services provided to City of Wilmington residents. Faithful Friends experienced a 33.07% loss in revenue in 2020 due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, which represented an almost $1 million loss in revenue. Faithful Friends will apply the funds to operating costs based on the agency’s annual board-approved operating budget.
Culture Restoration Project, Inc. – $150,000
Culture Restoration Project, Inc. [crpde.weebly.com] is a non-profit entity that provides services to an economically distressed community. Services include but are not limited to, the following: 25th and Sankofa, a community greenspace and placemaking project in the Price’s Run neighborhood; Sisters Healing Together, bi-weekly holistic healing space for mothers/women affected by gun violence; Knowledge of Self Program, a resiliency and youth empowerment program; Queen Code, an empowerment program for teen girls; and other youth engagement programs and support for Wilmington youth. Funds will be used for operating costs based on the organization’s annual board-approved operating budget.
Reed’s Refuge – $300,000
Reed’s Refuge [reedsrefugecenter.org] is a non-profit entity that provides services to an economically distressed community. Services include but are not limited to, the following: lessons in culinary skills, music, dance, studio recording, and videography; mentoring; and homework tutoring. Funds will be used to provide a safe haven for at-risk young people to learn and grow academically and personally. The project will provide young people with tools to engage in positive behavior and will help foster curiosity and academic participation.
Christina Cultural Arts Center – $500,000
Christina Cultural Arts Center [ccacde.org] will use the funds for a new or renovated facility in which to provide comprehensive arts programming to a primarily low-income and younger population.
NERDit Now – $200,000
NERDit Now [nerditnow.com], an electronics recycling business, will use these grant funds to purchase a vacant property located at 3030 Bowers Street to serve as the headquarters for the organization. The new facility will serve as a hub and home for recycling, retail, and apprenticeship operations. NERDit Now has a goal of training over 300 new apprentices in the next five years and creating 75 to 100 new jobs. If the property at 3030 Bowers Street cannot be secured by the recipient, the grant funds will be used to purchase (or acquire access to) and fit out a similar site in the City.
Under the category of Workforce Development
New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District – $767,505
The City of Wilmington and New Castle County Vo-Tech School District are coordinating efforts to solve a recognized need in the community, specifically the restoration of buildings in the City in need of repair or improvements. This progressive effort will focus on restoring homes and other structures, employing young adults in or out of school, creating apprenticeship opportunities for students, and supporting and developing the construction industry pipeline.
The Delaware Art Museum – $150,000
The Delaware Art Museum [delart.org], in partnership with the City, the State of Delaware, and other key community partners, has created a six-month pilot program that will train and pay ten City residents – under the guidance of a professional conservator – to clean, conserve, and publicly document 30 public works of art in downtown Wilmington and surrounding neighborhoods. Paid participants will gain skills that allow them to inventory and assess, conserve, maintain, document, and celebrate public art, as well as learn transferable skills that will support the participants’ employment readiness. Skills learned will include how to assess and condition report the works of art; how to properly clean and conserve the works; how to engage the community in public discussions and programs about the work; and how to interface with a variety of stakeholders, including elected officials and artists.
Under the category of Building Safer Communities
Community Violence Prevention Initiative – $500,000
This Community Violence Prevention Initiative is a comprehensive community-based approach to reducing violence and promoting positive development among the young people in Wilmington. The Initiative focuses on early intervention services for selected youth at risk of imminent crisis, addressing the economic, educational, and emotional stressors they face. Partners include the Center for Structural Equity (“CSE”), United Way of Delaware (“United Way”), Network Connect, and Minds in Motion – all members of the Wilmington Community Advisory Council (“WCAC”).
Mayor Purzycki said the Administration will continue to provide timely updates on its ARPA-funded programs and goals and urges the public to check in often at the ARPA web pages for the latest information.