Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware?


The Delaware Housing Coalition (DHC) released its annual housing affordability study this week. The report – Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware? – summarizes affordable housing conditions statewide and includes sections discussing:

* Housing and Poverty

* Homelessness

* Rental Housing

* Homeownership

* Foreclosures

* Housing and Communities

* Income and Employment

* Recommendations: Where Do We Go From Here?

Among its findings are:

Housing Burden Among the Very Poor

* There are 61,215 households in the state with incomes at or below half of the area median. 22,541 of these households are severely cost-burdened, paying 50% or more of their income for housing.

* 15,540 of these severely cost-burdened households have incomes at or below 30% of the area median.

* There is a deficit of 20,444 units statewide that needs to be filled in order to house these households affordably.

* When a “fair share” measure for very low-income households is applied to the state’s census tract districts, every census district in the state – except for the City of Wilmington – is found to have a deficit of affordable housing.

* There are almost 28,000 extremely low-income households in Delaware – 13,422 in rental units and 14,414 in owner-occupied units – in need of affordable housing due to cost burden.

* 25,000 very low-income families pay 30% or more of their income for housing costs or are on waiting lists for assisted housing.


* 1,479 Delawareans were identified as homeless in the January 2009 Point in Time survey by the Homeless Planning Council of Delaware, with nearly 7,000 state residents experiencing homelessness during the year.

* A disabled person dependent on SSI cannot afford an efficiency (zero-bedroom) apartment anywhere in the state.

* The efficiency apartment housing wage stands at $13.43 for Delaware, 188% of the state minimum wage, an annual salary of $27,934.

* Delaware needs 648 new supportive housing units, along with 1,000 new rental subsidies in order to house the 2,000 individuals who are most in need and most at risk of homelessness.


* The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment ranges from a low of $714 in Sussex County to $774 in Kent County to a high of $1005 in New Castle-an increase of as much as 20% since 2004.

* A worker in Delaware must earn $17.75 per hour-or $36,917 annually-to afford an average two-bedroom apartment.

* 46% of all workers in New Castle, 45% in Sussex and 63% in Kent can afford a two-bedroom apartment in their county of employment.

* Delaware has 4,604 project-based Section 8, Low Income Tax Credits, or Rural Development units that could lose subsidy or affordability restrictions between 2008-2012.


* In late 2008, the median purchase price for a house in Delaware ranged from $206,000 in Sussex County to $230,000 in New Castle.

* House price increases since 2000 range from 51% in Sussex County to 81% in Kent.

* Median household income in Delaware ranges from $58,600 in Sussex County to $77,800 in New Castle.

* The state’s homeownership rate is 76%. However, only 41% of Hispanic families own their own homes. African Americans have a 50% home ownership rate.


* 15% of Delawareans (131,000) live below the poverty level which in 2009 is $22,050 for a family of four.

* Five of the six top growth occupations in Delaware do not pay a median wage adequate to buy a house in the state nor rent a 2 bedroom FMR in New Castle County.

* 227,000 DE workers have median wages below that needed to rent a two-bedroom FMRapartment in their county.