by Terry Rogers
On Tuesday, August 25, Governor John Carney announced that he had created a Resilience Fund to assist those who had suffered damage during recent storms. Tropical Storm Isaias spawned tornadoes that damaged homes and businesses in Kent and Sussex Counties while another storm spawned tornadoes that caused damage in New Castle County.
“Many Delaware families saw their homes and communities devastated by back-to-back storms this month,” Governor Carney said. “I’ve seen that devastation first-hand over the past two weeks. We should support our neighbors who have had their lives upended by severe weather, especially during these difficult times. We hope this new program will meet unmet needs in our communities and help Delaware families rebuild.”
A.J. Schall, Director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), stated that his office will partner with Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC), a non-profit whose goal is to provide decent, safe and affordable housing solutions to people of modest means. One of the programs offered through MHDC is an Emergency Home Repair service which makes them uniquely qualified to handle this for DEMA.
“In response to the tropical storm that came through, the State of Delaware created a disaster Resiliency Fund,” Russell Huxtable, Vice President and Chief Operation Officer of MHDC, said. “They know that when people get battered and bruised by this type of storm, we have some households that need assistance. Not only financially, but with some security issues as well. What we plan to do is to incorporate this into our statewide program and address needs such as removing trees, repairing damage and helping people get things back to what they were.”
Huxtable explained that they do require a homeowner who has insurance to file a claim before they can assist them. Once the insurance company denies the claim, they are eligible. In some cases, lower income homeowners may have limited income and the damage is lower than their deductible. Since their income is too low to cover the deductible, they cannot afford the repairs. The same may be true of someone who has significant damage but a high deductible, Huxtable stated. MHDC’s program can help with that deductible.
“In order to qualify, people must be at 80 percent median income,” Huxtable said. “They will need to provide proof of income during the application phase. Once approved, we have a field contractor do a site visit, see what the issue is and then send out a scope of work to a few contractors that we work with. We then deploy the contractor to perform the job who is paid by MHDC and then we are reimbursed by the state.”
In addition to the Disaster Resiliency funds, MHDC offers an Emergency Repair Program that is funded by Delaware State Housing. In order to qualify, homeowners must be at 80 percent median income. MHDC has replaced water pumps, roofs and completed other repairs in an effort to mitigate a potential homeless solution.
“Last year, we helped over 100 families from Claymont to Delmar,” Huxtable said. “The average annual income of the families we help is between $14,000 and $15,000. Many are on fixed incomes or social security and, when their roof begins to leak, they have to choose between fixing it, eating or paying for utilities. Often, the only solution is a bucket on the floor. I had a friend who worked in the home repair program. He saw a woman they had helped, and he asked her how things were going. She told him “It rained last night, and I didn’t even know it.” That story explains why we do what we do. Just imagine the single mother or the senior who is living with this drip every time it rains. They worry that water will get where it should be or that the ceiling could collapse. This helps give them some piece of mind.”
The Disaster Resiliency Fund is up and running with MHDC taking applications now. Anyone interested can call toll free 1-844-413-0038. The program is available statewide.