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A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Delaware for Delaware’s three Habitat for Humanity branches underscored the role of housing repair in addressing the state’s escalating affordable housing shortage.
The research team’s statewide survey reached an estimate of 25,000 owner-occupied homes in need of repair. Of those, roughly 5,000 could be considered substandard, meaning they are in severe need of repairs and could risk becoming uninhabitable. The types of repairs needed range from mold remediation to rebuilding foundations; in New Castle County, many of the homes in need of repair are found in older Wilmington neighborhoods, while in Kent and Sussex County, repair needs are greatest in manufactured home communities.
The researchers note that deferring maintenance on homes until they become uninhabitable only deepens the state’s affordable housing crisis, potentially leaving low-income homeowners – many of them seniors – homeless.
Research lead and UD Biden School of Public Policy and Administration associate professor Steve Metraux says essential repairs for those homes could cost nearly $100 million – an exponentially larger figure than the amount of funding currently available in Delaware to support housing repair.