When Dover resident Sirena Young, 25, moved into public housing with her two young daughters back in 2006 she knew she did not want to stay there forever. So, as soon as Young turned 18, she enrolled in the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Moving to Work program as a tool to realize her dream of home ownership.


When Dover resident Sirena Young, 25, moved into public housing with her two young daughters back in 2006 she knew she did not want to stay there forever.

So, as soon as Young turned 18, she enrolled in the Delaware State Housing Authority’s Moving to Work program as a tool to realize her dream of home ownership.

Moving to Work is a federal program administered through DSHA in the Diamond State to enable residents of public housing In Kent and Sussex counties to become self-sufficient to either own a home or pay their own rent in an apartment. Counselors work with the residents and help them determine what they can afford based on their income levels.

Block funding from the federal government gives DSHA the flexibility to hire case managers to meet with clients at least once a quarter to go over education options, training and employment, DSHA Executive Director Anas Ben Addi said.

DSHA also enlists the help of non-profits and other state agencies to help clients attain self-sufficiency.

In Young’s case, she began her search for her home in January 2011 working with the homeownership program provided by NCALL Research Inc., a non-profit affordable housing corporation based in Dover.

She used money placed into an escrow/savings account as the down payment. She went to closing in August 2011.

That is when Young moved out of DSHA¹s Liberty Court Apartments off Walker Road and into her own home in Mayfair in Dover with her two daughters, 10 and 6. She is paying the mortgage with income made from two jobs at Pinnacle Nursing in Smyrna and Broad Meadows Nursing Home in Middletown.

In 10 years, 671 people have successfully graduated from DSHA’s program, Ben Addi said. Of that amount, 301 bought houses and 470 went to market rental units.

Each time residents become self-sufficient, other people on the wait list for public housing replace them and have the chance of attaining the same self-sufficiency one day, Ben Addi said.

In Young’s case, she has come a long way from being a teenage mother.

“As a parent, I had to take responsibility and grow up faster because I’m a kid having kids,” she said. “This is a great program. I f I keep working, there’s no way I can’t own a home.”

Moving to Work counselors work with clients to ensure they build up their savings for a down payment, DSHA Executive Director Ben Addi said. Counselors advise clients on whether home ownership is a realistic goal or whether renting an apartment is the way to go given their income levels.

Therefore, the Moving to Work program aims to avoid a repeat of the foreclosures that ensued when the federal FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC programs pushed too aggressively for mortgages for low income people, Ben Addi said.

In essence, no one is pushed into home ownership, Ben Addi. Renting an apartment is also very much a success because the client has achieved self-sufficiency – the ultimate goal of Moving to Work, he said.

Indeed, the modest home Young chose is very much within her budget, she said.

“The home that I chose needed some work done,” she said. “But it had potential and I could just fix things up a little at a time. That’s what it’s about – setting those goals so you can become a better person and achieve those dreams and goals.”

Young’s achievement was recently praised by Gov. Jack Markell.

Markell said Young was the perfect illustration of realizing the goal of homeownership through commitment and the right tools.

“We commend her for setting her sights on owning a home, and working hard towards achieving the American dream of homeownership,” Markell said