City Council provided information on MHDC grant options

Terry RogersDelaware Nonprofits, Milford Headline Story

The area inside the black lines will receive postcards allowing them to submit a survey that Milford Housing Development Corporation will use to apply for a grant from Wells Fargo very soon.

Milford City Council held a workshop on Mon., Feb. 8 to learn more about grant options available to Milford Housing Development Corporation. The organization received a grant from the Wells Fargo Reinvestment Fund that was designed for community development work in Milford.

“This grant was awarded before the pandemic began,” Russ Huxtable of MHDC said. “When COVID hit, everyone scattered, and we began living our life through Zoom. This meant we held off on some of our grant usage. Now that this is the world we are living in, we decided to open up to the communities we serve. We are announcing a survey to targeted neighborhoods in Milford with the goal to hear back from 200 to 300 households in that area. We really want to hear back from residents what they want in the community, including programs, they would like offered, housing and other projects. In an effort to encourage people to respond, we are gathering gift certificates from local companies to use as incentive.”

Huxtable explained that the survey will take approximately six months to send out and review. The focus area includes several houses of worship as well as cultural institutions like the Milford Library and he Riverfront Theatre. It also includes the Milford Riverwalk as well as downtown commercial corridors. According to census data provided by Huxtable, the population of the area of Milford has increased approximately 31 percent since 2014. Some areas saw a decline in population, such as areas east of Walnut Street while areas west of Walnut Street saw an increase in population. Family households remain the majority in the area at 64 percent and there has been an increase of single-parent households in the area since 2000 with 33 percent of all families reporting a single-parent in the home. Almost 36 percent of the households are non-family households which means they are single or unrelated individuals are sharing a home.

“I have been working with the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and a company called Success Measures,” Susan Davis of MHDC said. “We have been crafting a survey and have uploaded that survey to the Success Measures database. Once the postcards are printed, they will be sent out to the target area and that card will provide several ways for them to respond. There is a number they can call to set up a time for me to call and do the survey over the phone. They can text the word survey to a number on the card and be taken to the survey online or they can use the QR code on the card. The survey takes about ten minutes and is available in three languages. Wells Fargo gave us 12 to 18 months to complete this, but they are giving some leeway due to COVID. Once we get the responses and determine what people want in the area, we will apply for an implemental grant to try to get this moving. We plan to use social media and flyers to let the public know the postcards are coming.”

Huxtable explained that this type of grant has been used for projects in Wilmington and Dover. The postcards will be sent out to about 1,700 households and MHDC is hoping for a return of between 10 and 15 percent. Although MHDC is hoping that affordable housing is something citizens want in the area, they are also looking at items that may require planning, such as recreation or other projects. Rob Pierce, City Planner, is part of the steering committee for the project and Davis stated that they hope to add others on the steering committee depending on the responses they receive.

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