Rent or Own? Workforce Housing Debate Continues In Lewes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rent or Own? Workforce Housing Debate Continues In Lewes

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LEWES, Del.- The city of Lewes wants to incorporate more affordable housing for young professionals like nurses and teachers within its limits.

But after developer Preston Schell proposed rented apartment units along Savannah Road, neighbors opposed the project.  Schell came before the mayor and city council on Tuesday night for a workshop to discuss both to rent and to own housing.

Schell presented site designs for "big house" units for sale and three-story apartments for rent.  Schell says realistically, young professionals are going to gravitate more towards rentals.

"It's a lot easier for a 26-year-old teacher to come in and afford to pay $1,000 a month in rent than to buy a $200,000 "big house" unit," Schell said.

But neighbors have been vocal about wanting to see the "big house" design that are privately-owned. 

"I think there's this perception that the stability of the community and the longevity, how people will take care of their homes and the community in general if they own is slightly higher," Schell said. 

But Mayor Ted Becker said the council was concerned that those property values would eventually become unaffordable with time and defeat the purpose.

"There was a concern early on, on part of the council, that ownership would mean properties would inflate or increase, appreciate at a much more rapid pace and rental might have been a way to manage it," Becker said. 

After Tuesday's meeting, all parties said they looked forward to discussing both options in further council meetings.  Neither the mayor or council said they seemed to favor one option over the other, but admitted workforce housing is necessary within Eastern Sussex County.

"The east/west corridors, Route 9, Route 16, Route 24, they get clogged up in the morning and afternoon because it's people that work on the eastern side of the county commuting back to their homes on the western side of the county," Schell said. 


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