COVID-19 changed Delaware’s economy almost overnight. Thousands of businesses closed or dramatically downsized. Essential workers stayed on the job; those who could worked from home; others had their hours reduced or were simply out of a job. Without the income to pay their monthly bills, many Delaware renters found themselves facing eviction.
In March 2020, Delaware Governor John Carney and DSHA Director Anas Ben Addi announced the creation of the Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) to provide rental assistance for eligible households experiencing a COVID-19 job loss or loss of income.
The first such program in the United States created by a housing finance agency, DEHAP was initially funded by a $2 million grant from DSHA and support from local governments. Community response proved overwhelming, and one month later, DSHA paused the program to assess its sources of funding and how to best support the program going forward. As part of the process, DSHA looked to FHLBank Pittsburgh’s Home4Good initiative for help.
FHLBank and its Home4Good partners quickly agreed to commit $700,000 of its 2020 Home4Good allocation to DEHAP. Twelve FHLBank members rallied to serve as co-applicants for the award. According to Jim Rovito, Vice President at co-applicant First Citizens Community Bank, “As FHLBank members, we were privileged to be in a position to support the DEHAP’s efforts fairly early in the pandemic, and we were eager to help.”
Marlena Gibson, DSHA’s Director of Policy and Planning, credits FHLBank’s early commitment as key to getting DEHAP off the ground and attracting other sources of funding. “As the pandemic continued through the spring and summer of 2020, so did the demand for DEHAP funding. We turned to our partners at FHLBank for support, so we could continue operating the program while working to assemble and confirm additional funding. FHLBank offered its assistance with no hesitation, and together, we came to a solution that allowed us to help more Delaware families stay current on their rent during the pandemic.”
By March 2021, DEHAP was in its third iteration, and with help from the federal government and a broad network of other supporters, funding had substantially increased. One year into the program, DEHAP had approved more than $19.3 million in COVID-related assistance to nearly 5,000 households. With an additional 7,400 applications submitted under the most recent version of the program, DSHA anticipated accepting DEHAP applications at least through the end of 2021.
In addition to First Citizens Community Bank, other FHLBank members who served as co-applicants included:
- Artisans’ Bank
- Community Bank Delaware
- County Bank
- Dover Federal Credit Union
- First Citizens Community Bank
- Fulton Bank,N.A.
- Meridian Bank
- Stepping Stones Community Federal Credit Union
- TD Bank, N.A.
- The Bancorp Bank
- The Bryn Mawr Trust Company
- Wilmington Svgs Fund Society, FSB
Susan Eliason, DSHA’s Director of Housing Development, explains how the funding helped to sustain Delaware renters during the pandemic. “The funding received from FHLBank allowed DSHA the opportunity to help thousands of Delaware households impacted financially by the pandemic remain in their homes. We are incredibly thankful to FHLBank for its support of DEHAP and its commitment to DSHA’s mission of helping our state’s residents avoid eviction during this difficult time.”
Home4Good is a flexible grant product that supports projects, programs and activities that lead to stable housing for those who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. In 2020, FHLBank Pittsburgh and its Home4Good partners—Delaware State Housing Authority, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the West Virginia Housing Development Fund—changed the 2020 Home4Good process so that funding could quickly reach communities, families and individuals facing homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. FHLBank Pittsburgh contributed $4.8 million to the 2020 Home4Good initiative, and its housing finance agency partners contributed an additional $2 million, for a total $6.8 million. In addition to Delaware’s emergency rental relief program, the funding provided 20 block grants to Continuum of Care organizations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.