During the development of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan, there were numerous opportunities for citizen participation. Significant public input was received related to the lack of affordable housing in Sussex County.
The Sussex County Council and Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission were supportive of finding solutions to these concerns. So, in October 2018, Sussex County’s Community Development and Housing Department (CD&H) received approval from County Council to conduct a Request for Proposal for an outside consultant to do affordable housing study. Following the RFP process and Council approval and aware, CD&H contracted with LSA Planning from Alexandria, VA.
LSA Planning was instructed to provide three deliverables:
- Housing Needs & Market Analysis
- Economic Feasibility Analysis
- Housing Opportunities and Market Evaluation (HOME)
The final report, completed in fall 2019, Housing Opportunities and Market Evaluation was dubbed the “HOME” report. The HOME report contained final recommendations for policy changes and new initiatives that would increase availability of and access to affordable housing in Sussex County.
The HOME final recommendations were categorized as follows:
- Strategy 1: Modify the Zoning Code to Promote Housing Affordability in Growth Areas Identified in the Comprehensive Plan
- Strategy 2: Establish a Local Housing Trust Fund
- Strategy 3: Preserve the Existing Supply of Affordable Housing
So, WHY a Housing Trust Fund?
- Fills the gap between the cost of producing market-rate housing and producing below market-rate housing for lower-income households.
- Can be used to leverage other funding
- Offers greater flexibility with fewer regulations than federal or state resources.
Sussex County Council authorized a seed allocation of $500,000 in general fund dollars and $6.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to launch the Sussex County Housing Trust Fund (SCHTF) in April 2022.
The SCHTF contains two primary objectives:
- Objective #1: Development Fund
- Objective #2: Direct Homebuyer Assistance
Sussex County Council also approved the establishment of the Sussex County Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board to oversee funding approvals. The Advisory Board contains five (5) individuals – Sussex County Finance Director, Sussex County Community Development & Housing Director, Sussex County Economic Development Director, Affordable Housing Advocate, and a Financial Institution Representative.