County Executive Thomas P. Gordon and New Castle County Councilman Penrose Hollins have agreed to pursue a workforce housing program moratorium.
County Executive Gordon and Councilman Hollins met earlier this autumn to discuss Workforce Housing. Ordinance No. 13-089 was subsequently introduced during the Nov. 12, 2013 meeting of New Castle County Council. This ordinance would give the Executive and the Councilman 180 days to recommend changes that would increase home ownership opportunities, promote decent affordable housing, strengthen communities, and ensure equal opportunities in housing.
The ordinance sponsored by Councilman Hollins is scheduled to be reviewed by the NCC Planning Board at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the James Gilliam Building, 77 Reads Way, New Castle.
During their recent meetings, County Executive Gordon and Councilman Hollins discussed their longstanding commitment to affordable housing and the Fair Housing Act. They agreed it was important to temporarily eliminate the ability to process new workforce housing plans. However, they recognized it was important to continue to permit the processing of existing workforce housing plans.
“Councilman Hollins and I thought it both wise and prudent to take a hard look at the effectiveness of Workforce Housing,” County Executive Gordon said. “If this moratorium were passed, it would give the Councilman and I the time we need to do just that.”
"It is our mutual goal to affirmatively further fair housing in New Castle County," Councilman Hollins said.
The County Executive is legislatively tasked with ensuring the administrative and executive functions of County government are properly performed. Land Use General Manager Eileen Fogarty, Community Services General Manager Alan Matas and Chief Financial Officer Mike Coupe are the relevant departmental leadership that deals with workforce housing.
Councilman Hollins, the President Pro Tempore of County Council, represents the Fourth District and serves as chairman of the Community Services Committee. In February 2008, under the sponsorship of Councilman Hollins, County Council adopted Substitute 1 to Ordinance 07-150, as amended by Floor Amendment No. 1 revising Chapter 40 of the New Castle County Code, to facilitate the creation of workforce housing provisions and incentives to encourage the integration of workforce dwelling units into new housing communities. Chapter 40 encompasses the Unified Development Code.
County Council initiated a stay of workforce housing plan submissions in December 2008 by Ordinance 09-113. A subsequent amendment designed to clarify and improve the workforce housing provisions was adopted in February 2009 by Ordinance 08-121.
Since the adoption of the workforce housing provisions, a total of 19 land development plans that included workforce housing incentives have been submitted to the Department of Land Use. These plans proposed 735 workforce dwelling units. Of that amount, 50 percent of them will not be built because eight of the 19 workforce housing projects have expired by operation of law due to the failure of the applicant to record the plan in a timely manner.
A total of 341 workforce dwelling units are currently designated on recorded plans and 31 units have been issued certificates of occupancy. No applications have been filed incorporating workforce housing incentives since 2011.
County Executive Gordon and Councilman Hollins believed the program was being used by developers to garner support for rezonings to allow higher-density residential plans with the aim of not actually building workforce dwelling units. As such, the Executive and Councilman Hollins felt it was important to make the effort to develop provisions that would increase home ownership opportunities, promote decent, affordable housing, strengthen communities, and ensure equal opportunities in housing.
County Executive Gordon and Councilman Hollins fully intend to pursue the adoption of new code provisions upon the expiration of this moratorium.