least 163 of the approximately 400 households now
living in the Brookview apartments complex want to
remain in the Claymont area. The county Department
of Community Service will try to help them do that,
according to general manager Anne Farley.
She told County Council's
community service committee that her department and the
recently formed Brookview Tenant Council are collaborating
on determining needs and desires of present residents as a
result of plans to redevelop the complex, which will most
likely displace most, if not all, of them.
A four-point 'community
action plan' which she presented to the committee on Nov. 15
• Assistance to 40 or more
families to receive counseling leading to their possibly
owning a home;
• Financial help for the 13
families with 'Section 8' vouchers to relocate;
• Referral of residents who
desire assistance to the appropriate social services and
other agencies; and
• Assuring that "current
Brookview residents have safe and affordable rental housing,
assisted housing or [opportunity to] become home owners."
The county government
initiative was sparked by County Councilman John Cartier,
who was instrumental in organizing the tenants council.
The initiative got off to a
good start, Farley said, with an unusually high level of
response to a survey conducted by tenants council volunteers
during September and October. Responses were received from
221 households, most of whom were interviewed in their
units. Twenty completed survey forms were returned by mail
after the interview team, finding no one at home, left them
at the doors.
Many residents added comments
in addition to responding to the survey questions. Most
frequently stated was a desire to be kept better informed of
the status of development plans and the timetable for moving
forward with it.
A joint venture of two local
companies, Commonwealth Group and Setting Properties, has
put forth a conceptual plan for redeveloping Brookview into
a community of up to 1,200 residential units of various
kinds. Commonwealth has acquired the property and is
managing the complex of 633 apartment units, which Farley
said currently is about 63% occupied.
Pending a more detailed
analysis of demographic information the survey obtained, she
said an initial tabulation revealed a more diverse community
than has generally been supposed.
About a third of the
residents responding to the survey have lived there for more
than two years and another third for fewer than two years.
Three-fourths are employed and about a fourth are working in
the Claymont area. There are children in about half of the
households but, somewhat surprisingly, only about a third of
them have only one adult. Average household size is 2.8
persons. Only about 7% of the households are classed as
seniors, age 62 or older. Exactly half the responders are
black, 23% white and 15% Hispanic.
"It's very important that we
are cognizant of the diversity there," Farley said.
A third of the respondents
reported annual incomes 'around' $15,000 and another 36%
said they earn 'around' $22,750. That poses an obvious
problem relative to housing, she said, because a majority of
Brookview residents would qualify, under Delaware Housing
Authority guides, only to purchase a house selling for
$64,500. The average residential selling price in New Castle
County is $197,000. An income of $25,000 is considered
necessary to afford a monthly rent of $550 and there is,
according to the latest housing survey, a 'gap' of more than
6,200 units in that price range. The average Brookview rent
is $582, Farley said.
Although a majority of survey
respondents are working, she said about three-fourths of the
households are at or below the federal poverty level, based
on family size. Of the respondents, 54% are receiving some
form of public assistance.