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


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.