Rising land values making it difficult for Habitat to acquire properties in Sussex.

Sussex County habitat for Humanity has issued a plea to residents with vacant lots, abandoned houses or rehab-worthy homes in the Laurel and seaford downtown Development districts.

“We are facing unexpected challenges in securing properties in the downtown development districts, the current focus of our affordable home-building program,” said executive director Kevin Gilmore. “They are just too few and far between to meet our neighborhood improvement and home construction goals.”

The development districts are demarcated city neighborhoods that have been targeted for renewal and redevelopment through state and county grant assistance. Laurel and Seaford, along with other Delaware cities and towns, have districts that are seeing active renewal efforts and ongoing improvements.

Gilmore said the lack of lower-priced lots and homes is making it difficult for Sussex Habitat to serve the affordable housing needs of families in the western portion of the county, where property values have been steadily climbing.

Jack Moore, Sussex Habitat’s property acquisition coordinator, agreed.

“It’s really just a matter of simple math,” Moore said. “We typically offer homes that appraise for something in the neighborhood of $150,000. So that very much limits how much we can pay for the property at the front end.”

Moore is hoping to hear from Laurel and Seaford property owners who might consider selling Sussex Habitat a vacant lot, an abandoned house or a rehab-worthy home in the development districts at below-market pricing — or better yet, would consider a donation to Habitat.

Moore said a donated property would mean a lot to a family in need, and there are considerable benefits to property donors come tax time. He advises potential donors to review their options with a tax professional.

To see first-hand how Habitat’s efforts can improve a neighborhood, Gilmore suggests people visit North Conwell Street in Seaford, where two new Habitat homes are under construction.

He said Habitat worked with two supportive sellers to acquire the empty, dilapidated houses.

“We tore those structures down and we’re replacing them with two new, attractive homes that will soon be home to two hard-working families — putting both the families and the neighborhood on an upward trajectory,” he said.

To learn more about the Laurel and Seaford Downtown Development Districts, and to see if a property you own is in the DDD, visit these web sites: reimaginelaurel.net/downtown-development-district or seafordde.com/library/DDD_City_Seaford_Pamphlet.pdf

To reach Jack Moore regarding a property donation or sale, phone or text him at 240-278-0430 or email him at jack@sussexcountyhabitat.org.