Affordable Housing Changes Coming to Sussex County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Affordable Housing Changes Coming to Sussex County

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - The County Council voted to amend part of the Sussex County Code relating to affordably priced rental units.

The original ordinance was passed eight years ago. Sussex County's Fair Housing Compliance Officer Brandy Nauman says that the age of the ordinance made change absolutely necessary.

"It was created in the height of the rental market. It's not viable today," she says. "So we're hoping this incentivizes developers to participate."

Incentives for developers include an expedited review by the county's Planing and Zoning Commission and a 20 percent density bonus in their developments.

Nauman says the changes were compared to programs in Fairfax County, Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. Other changes to code include the opportunity for tenants to stay in their unit even if they stop qualifying for affordable housing; previously, tenants would be forced to leave in this case, but now they can stay if they pay full market price and the developer marks a separate unit as affordable. Another stipulation for developers is the ratio of affordable rental units must match the ratio of market priced units. 

Another change is who determines if someone is eligible for affordable housing. Previously, it was the county's job. Now it will be the landlord, reviewing county code and under the county's supervision.

Nauman says her team recommends creating affordable housing units on the east side of Sussex County, as its marked as an "Area of Opportunity" by the Delaware State Housing Authority. 

"The eastern side is full of folks working in the service industry, schools, and hospitals and they can't live within five miles of where they work," says Nauman. "This is just creating opportunity for them to live near where they work."

The new affordable housing units will be intermixed with regularly priced units, something Nauman says she hopes ends stigmas against affordable housing.

"Their neighbors should not know they are paying any less rent," she says. "The layout is the same, the exterior finishes are the same and they're scattered throughout the project so there really should be no concern."

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