Sen. Carper, Coons Visit Milford

Sitting down for lunch with several veterans, Senator Coons had the opportunity to speak with veteran Thomas Morris, a Pearl Harbor survivor who served on the USS California.

On Friday, December 7 United States Senators Carper and Coons of Delaware joined USDA Rural Development acting Director Kathy Beisner to announce a $790,000 Section 523 Technical Assistance Grant award from the USDA Rural Development to the Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC). This grant will help the MHDC implement the USDA Rural Development Self Help Housing Program, which helps low-income families take part in the labor to construct their own homes, under the supervision of the MHDC.

MHDC offers the Self-Help Program as an alternative path to homeownership for families who might otherwise not be eligible through a more traditional avenue. Working in small groups of families, participants help build one another’s homes together over a year-long construction process for 30 hours each week.

Both senators had the opportunity to experience each step of the process that individuals enrolled in the MHDC program experience before home ownership is possible. Starting with financial counseling, the senators were able to choose their own flooring and cabinets and then spoke with their construction manager while practicing the installation of subfloors.

“I was thrilled to have the opportunity, with Senator Carper, to go through the entire home ownership process,” commented Senator Coons. “I’m so proud that the Milford Housing Development Corporation serves low income families regardless of age or background, and that it operates here in Delaware the only federally-funded homeownership program specifically for rural America. These programs change lives.”

The Senators next visited the Delaware Veterans Home in honor of the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. Sitting down for lunch with several veterans, Carper and Coons had the opportunity to speak with veteran Thomas Morris, a Pearl Harbor survivor who served on the USS California. Morris told his story of survival to the senators and recalled the destruction and devastation he experienced.

“I went down below when I heard the first bombshell hit and tried to rescue the men that were down below,” relayed Morris to Senator Coons. “When the ship was hit again I was thrown and was stretched out. I was burned all the way up with shrapnel.”

Along with Morris 62 other men were wounded and 100 men were lost aboard the USS California during the December attack on Pearl Harbor. Morris was later discharged from the Navy and returned to his home in Cecil, Maryland.

Senator Carper and Coons wrapped up the day at local business The Soap Fairy, a manufacturer of handcrafted soaps that takes part in the Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program.The Delaware STEP grant has authorized $187,000 for 2013 to be used to help Delaware small businesses start or increase exports.

“Programs like this one that make it easier for small businesses to take advantage of global customers are important to our recovering economy,” said Senator Carper. “The role of government is to create a nurturing environment for business growth, and this is a great example of the government providing small business with the tools to grow.”