National Award from Catholic Campaign for Human Development

The longer-term work of Diamond State Community Land Trust received very significant encouragement from a recent national grant to support our operations.

The competitive national award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is based on the belief that “those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them.”

Diamond State CLT is honored for the award which recognizes the CLT commitment to a community-controlled organization which removes land from the market and holds it in trust in the furtherance of affordable housing.

CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. CCHD offers a hand up, not a hand out. It acts as the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ “… to bring good news to the poor …  release to captives …  sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18)





They helped us swim against the stream

Amy Walls and Jo Ann Zorb

Two formative leaders of Diamond State Community Land Trust are stepping away from the tremendous responsibility they have undertaken for the last eight years or more, and moving into much-needed but less demanding roles.

They came to us – avid, yet duly diligent – and served, during a time of tremendous uncertainty. Because of them, above all, it can be looked back upon now as a period of significant growth, consolidation, and coming of age as an organization.

Amy Walls and Jo Ann Zorb moved us forward remarkably.

Jo Ann, our Home Ownership Program Manager, has been the face of permanent affordability in Delaware and nationally for her entire time with us. Even more, she has been the the one to think through and implement, at the most practical level, helping people to have that moment of recognition of how a community land trust model can work with them. Some of those people include mortgage lenders, home appraisers, real estate agents, funders, local government representatives, and, most importantly, home buyers. In short, almost everybody.

Amy brought increasingly strong personal leadership to the board of directors, working strategically on board and program development with a longer view in mind. She displayed, on one hand, a deftness and intelligence finely tuned to our situation; and, on the other, an occasionally adamantine will. Her strength and determination brought us through.

While not, technically, founders of our organization, Amy and Jo Ann are formative figures. Despite the currents of scepticism about the shared-equity model and, in a nonprofit funding environment of rising uncertainty, they helped us move against the stream toward the firmer establishment of an organization providing permanently affordable homes in Delaware.

We can never thank them enough.


New FY2018 Board Officers & Directors

[Left to Right] Denise Freeman, Lillian Harrison (P), Sarah Keifer (VP), Dawn Poczynek-Holdridge (T), Dave Buches (S), and Amy Walls
New Board Officers Confirmed

At our April 2017 Annual Membership meeting, Board Officers were presented to the membership and then confirmed by the Board of Directors at our meeting on May 11th.

The new Board Officers are:

  • Lillian Harrison – President
  • Sarah Keifer – Vice President
  • Dave Buches – Secretary
  • Dawn Poczynek-Holdridge – Treasurer

We congratulate them and thank the entire board for their willingness to serve the membership.

A special thanks goes to Amy Walls, outgoing President, after her many years of devoted service

New DSCLT Board Member

Also at our 2017 Annual Membership Meeting, Joan Fitzgerald was nominated and confirmed as a new Board Member for DSCLT.

Joan is the Senior Loan Officer at Embrace Home Loans. Previously a Senior Loan Officer at Meridian Bank, Joan has a strong reputation in the local lending community. She has been honored as Delaware Today’s Top Mortgage Professional and has received the Five Star Mortgage Professional Award for five consecutive years. She is on the advisory counsel at Interfaith Community Housing of Delaware and the Delaware State Housing Authority. She is a member of the Delaware Mortgage Bankers Association and teaches the mortgage section of the HUD Approved class. She is passionate about helping first-time homebuyers.

Joan is also very active in the community. She is a trustee of the Village of Ardentown, on the Board of Directors of the Arden Building & Loan Association, and is an active member of the Diamond State Community Land Trust. We know she will continue to be a great asset to us in this new role.

Joan grew up in North Wilmington and lives in Ardentown. She enjoys reading, quilting, and spending time with her two granddaughters and great-grandson.

The full list of the board of directors can be found here.

Diamond State CLT’s First Sussex Homes

In June 2017, Charlena Evans became a Diamond State CLT home owner in Ingram Village.

Congratulations to the first three families to become  home owners and Diamond State CLT members in Sussex County!

  1. Dominic Mancuso and David Marsh recently made settlement on our first DSCLT home in Sussex County!
  2. Robert and Carol Van Sciver became the second Diamond State CLT Homeowners in Sussex County shortly thereafter.
  3. And Charlena Evans purchased the third home built by Diamond State CLT in Sussex County at Ingram Village.
Thank You!

It is the fulfillment of a long process for Diamond State CLT to have begun to create permanently affordable homes in Sussex County.

Thanks go to a number of people and organizations:

  • Shannon Carmean Burton, Esq.
  • Delaware State Housing Authority & the Governor’s Council on Housing
  • Deutsche Bank Trust Company
  • Development Committee of the DSCLT Board
  • Discover Bank
  • Meridian Mortgages
  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh
  • NCALL Homeownership Programs & Loan Fund
  • Patrick Ryan, AIA
  • Sussex County Council
  • TD Bank
  • The Town of Ellendale
  • University of Delaware Agricultural Extension
  • U&I Builders
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Wakefield Associates
  • WSFS Bank


DSHA Funds Rodney Village Homes

Kent County Commissioner Eric Buckson was instrumental in bringing the NSP program to Kent County.

The Housing Development Fund (HDF) of the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) provided additional monies to assist DSCLT homebuyers purchasing homes in Rodney Village.

So far DSCLT has acquired nine homes and rehabilitated six, making them permanently affordable. We are working toward completing at least ten homes in the community.

HDF funding will help make the remaining Rodney Village homes affordable to low-income first-time homebuyers.

Kent County Neighborhood Revitalization Program

The work in Rodney Village has been made possible by Kent County Levy Court which works closely with DSCLT to reinvest program income from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in Rodney Village.

Other Funders

Additional funds were provided by the Longwood Foundation, Discover Bank, NCALL Loan Fund, Deutsche Bank, the Delaware Community Foundation, and the Laffey-McHugh Foundation.

Rodney Village

Applicants like this diverse, engaged community, which is close to parks, within walking distance of retail, and is in a good school district.

Most of our home buyers find their monthly mortgage payments to be lower than what they were previously paying in rent.


Home Owners Serve on Our Board

Board President Amy Walls with Lillian Harrison, Diane Crockett and daughter, Jacob and Lydia Arguelles, Dominic Mancuso

In recent months, Diamond State CLT welcomed four new board members; Lillian Harrison, Diane Crockett, Lydia Arguelles, and Dominic Mancuso.

Lillian Harrison

Lillian serves as the Housing and Credit Clinic Director at the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council (DCRAC), as well as the AmeriCorps VISTA Veterans Program Director.

Diane Crockett

Diane (with her daughter) became a DSCLT home owner last spring. Since then she has convened a subcommittee of the board strategic planning process and is a member of the Matched Savings Program Committee.

Lydia Arguelles

Lydia is a retired home-maker and mother of three. Her DSCLT Home is in Camden and she has been very active on our Community Engagement Committee. She often assists by attending Homebuyer Fairs and other events to speak with potential applicants.

Dominic Mancuso

Dominic is a retired information tech from Virginia who is purchasing a CLT home in Ingram Village.

The addition of Diane, Lydia, and Dominic to the board means that our homeowners now comprise one-third of our board of directors. The goal of CLT boards such as ours is to have one third of board members to come from CLT homeowners, community members, and public representatives, respectively.


New CLT Homes in Rodney Village


We have created six permanently affordable homes in the Rodney Village community and have made a commitment to reach the goal of at least ten CLT homes there. We are about to begin work on the seventh home.

We have many partners to thank for our progress.

Kent County Levy Court
Working with Kent County Levy Court, we have been reinvesting program income from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) federal funds there. Since this will not provide us with sufficient funds to reach ten homes, we have begun soliciting private and other public funds to supplement the NSP income.

Longwood Foundation
Diamond State has received a grant of $125,000 from the Longwood Foundation for use in Rodney Village, allowing us to provide gap development funds in the homes we are developing.

Delaware Community Foundation
The Delaware Community Foundation is providing gap subsidy to be used in Rodney Village CLT homes.

Laffey-McHugh Foundation
The Laffey-McHugh Foundation gave us a special operating grant in Fiscal Year 2015.

Discover Bank
Discover Bank has supported our operating and development budgets over the past two years, as we have continued to rebuild foreclosed homes in Rodney Village.

NCALL Loan Fund
Along with additional project gap funding, we have been utilizing a revolving line of credit from NCALL Loan Fund for acquisition and rehabilitation of homes in Rodney Village.

Deutsche Bank
The Deutsche Bank Trust Company of Delaware provided operating funds specifically for work on the Rodney Village Homes.

Housing Development Fund
Most recently, we received funds from the Governor’s Council on Housing and the Delaware State Housing Authority to invest in the next four homes.

We are understandably grateful to all who have helped us and the community of Rodney Village.

Coming to Ellendale – New CLT Homes

Ingram front
The front view of our Ingram Village home

Thanks to recent funding awards from Federal Home Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLB) and the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA), Diamond State CLT will be building three new homes in the Ingram Village development in the Town of Ellendale.The FHLB funds were made possible in partnership with member bank, WSFS Bank.

The Board of Directors of Diamond State CLT had previously dedicated funds to home ownership opportunities in Sussex County, where there is a significant need for affordable housing.

Sussex County has the largest housing affordability gap in the state for a family at 50% of AMI – now at $168,240 for the median home price of $265,000 in 2015 (source: DHC, Who Can Afford to Live in Delaware? 2015).

Sussex is also a very difficult housing environment for renters. Of the 50 states, Delaware has the sixth highest nonmetro area housing wage for a two-bedroom unit at $18.98. There is a significant portion of the rental population that experience housing cost burdens exceeding 30% of their income.

The Delaware Housing Needs Assessment 2015 – 2020 of Delaware State Housing Authority provides data related to housing need in the sub-market that contains Ellendale.

It found a need for homes for at least 710 very low income (≤50% of area median income) households and 800 low income (51 to 80% of area median income) home owners. It also indicated that there are at least 655 cost burdened renters (under 80% AMI) in the area from Milford to Georgetown.

Look for our new homes in mid-year.

For more information, contact Jo Ann Zorb, Home Ownership Manager.

We are thankful.

Left to right, Shalisa Alexander, is welcomed by Jo Ann Zorb of Diamond State CLT and Mary Ellen Gray of Kent County Planning Department, as is her mother, Francine Walls.

At Thanksgiving 2015, we were happy to announce our newest community land trust members and home owners.

That week, Francine Walls and her daughter, Shalisa Alexander, and grand-daughter, Patience, became the most recent Diamond State CLT home owners.

The family took possession of a home in the Rodney Village neighborhood that was acquired, completely rehabilitated, and sold with the financial support of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, administered by the Kent County Levy Court.

A grant from the Longwood Foundation and funds from Discover Bank and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Delaware also contributed to making home ownership possible for the Walls family. Project financing came from the NCALL Loan Fund.

Shortly after settlement, the family was visited by the Diamond State Welcome Wagon Committee which brought a house-warming basket, including a fresh turkey generously donated by TA Farms, Camden-Wyoming.

We at Diamond State CLT are grateful to have the Walls family join our CLT community.
We are also grateful to everyone who helped us create this new home and offer it to the Walls family.