How Salisbury plans to address housing shortage and homelessness

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As Salisbury’s population has grown, its lack of housing inventory, lack of affordable housing and homelessness issues have also increased.

On Wednesday, the city shared its plans to tackle these issues.

Mayor Jake Day has announced plans to launch Here is Home, a housing initiative that will aim to increase housing supply, make housing more affordable and expand housing solutions for the homeless.

The initiative will use monetary incentives, strategic partnerships and programs to achieve its goals, Day said.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day speaks during the unveiling of the 'Here is Home' housing initiative on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, in the Coventry Square Apartments roundabout in Salisbury, Maryland.  The 'Here is Home' housing initiative is a plan to address the shortage of available housing in Salisbury.

“It’s time for us to open our doors wide to the growth we want,” Day said. “If we don’t act, what would this family that had to choose Millsboro or Easton or Ocean Pines or some other market have brought to this town if they had settled here? … What do we lose?” us because we could not find accommodation?

Those in attendance at Day’s presentation included John Psota, Acting County Wicomico Director, Salisbury Chamber of Commerce chairman Bill Chambers, and four members of Salisbury City Council.

The city council will discuss the legislation concerning Here is Home during the working sessions in October.

“This is probably the most impactful bill I have ever been involved in,” said City Council Chairman Jack Heath.

Encourage new development

The housing initiative

Here is Home will work to attract developers to Salisbury.

He plans to do this by waiving all costs associated with development in the city. This will include annexation costs – the costs associated with bringing a property within the city limits of Salisbury.

Day plans to offer council a 90-day window during which homeowners and developers can take advantage of the exempt fees.

Under this agreement, property owners and developers will have to meet a certain deadline to start and complete construction.

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Day predicted that the land would be cleared on these new developments within about two years. These developments could include multi-family or single-family housing, Day said.

In addition, he said the city will consider developments currently in the “permit pipeline”.

“We can’t make a sheet of plywood cheaper, but we can control the cost of the fee to the town of Salisbury,” Day said.

Increase affordability

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day speaks during the unveiling of the 'Here is Home' housing initiative on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, in the Coventry Square Apartments roundabout in Salisbury, Maryland.  The 'Here is Home' housing initiative is a plan to address the shortage of available housing in Salisbury.

While Salisbury hopes to see more homes built, she also wants these homes to be affordable for current and future residents.

To achieve this, the City will establish a minimum payment in lieu of taxes for affordable housing. Day said this would be established by the code for the creation of any subsidized housing in the city.

Salisbury will provide a property tax credit to Salisbury Neighborhood Housing Services and Habitat for Humanity in County Wicomico.

As these organizations renovate homes, Salisbury will remove municipal taxes from their expenses, according to Day.

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Since the start of the pandemic, house prices in Salisbury and other parts of the east coast have increased significantly.

Fight against homelessness

Salisbury also plans to expand its efforts to help its homeless community.

The city will build a Tiny Home Village that will provide homeless people with a dry and safe place to sleep.

Salisbury will build 30 houses on town-owned land. These homes will be equipped with heating, air conditioning, showers, bathrooms, mail and storage facilities.

The housing initiative

Day said he didn’t always believe a Tiny Home Village was the right solution to tackling homelessness, but added that he was not above “adapting” or ” be corrected “.

Christine Chestnutt, Housing and Homelessness Manager at Salisbury, was instrumental in making the plans for Tiny Home Village a reality.

“When you’re homeless, you live in constant fight-or-flight mode,” Chestnutt said. “Even if you are asleep, you are not resting. It will provide you with this opportunity (to rest).”

Maddie Aiken covers local government for Delmarva Now / The Daily Times. Do you have a tip or a story idea? Send it to [email protected], 443-454-1157 or on Twitter @madsaiken.


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