The First State Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council, Inc. sponsors the Emergency Home Repair Project. The project was founded in 1991 when 10 volunteers repaired 13 homes. They identified housing issues as a concern within their community. To address the issue of substandard owner-occupied housing, the Council initiated the Emergency Home Repair Project. The project addresses only owner-occupied units.
During the RC&D Council’s 1999 fiscal year, 264 volunteers donated 17,670 hours completing repairs on 312 homes in Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware. Of the homes repaired, 46% were minority-owned and 30% were owned by disabled individuals. Volunteers, both individuals and groups from Delaware and beyond, assisted with the repairs.
The RC&D Council works with other nonprofit organizations, professional organizations, banks, and local businesses. The council has been recognized for their Make-A-Difference Day activities and for its total commitment to the community. The Delaware State Housing Authority, the project’s major funding source, was name the National RC&D Sponsor of the Year for its outstanding long-term support of the project in 1999.
The RC&D Council, along with the Emergency Home Repair Project, has identified needs in the community of Delaware. The City of Wilmington has 2,434 substandard housing units, which represents 8.4% of the cities’ housing units. They have the highest rate in the state. New Castle County has 3,804 substandard units, which is 2.5% of their housing units. Kent County has a substandard housing rate of 5.0%, which is 15% above the state average. In addition to this, Sussex County has 3,504 substandard units at a 6.6% rate. Their rate is 50% higher than the state average.
The council bridges the gap between little or no action and County level efforts under Community Development Block Grant rehabilitation activities. The project allows homeowners to continue to occupy their home while awaiting more extensive repairs or renovation. The only alternatives for these homeowners are to continue to dwell in an unsafe or unhealthy dwelling or become homeless. Through the program, volunteers and community members are mobilized and empowered to invest sweat equity to solve local problems. Clients are encouraged to take part in the repair of their own homes, and many clients volunteer to assist their neighbors or in other project activities.