Cornerstone West CDC is a community development corporation in Wilmington, DE. We develop housing that meets the needs of New Castle County’s low- to moderate-income families. We also serve as a proactive catalyst for community revitalization in Wilmington’s West Side. Cornerstone West CDC serves as the backbone organization coordinating the West Side Grows Together neighborhood revitalization initiative.
Cornerstone’s housing development strategy focuses on meeting the diversity of West Side’s housing needs to strengthen and preserve this mixed-income community.
New Construction and Housing Rehabilitation for Affordable Homeownership
For over 15 years, Cornerstone West CDC has worked to revitalize West Side by increasing the number of affordable homeownership opportunities available, knowing that increasing homeownership is one way to restore balance in a neighborhood. Our community’s ownership rate is only 36% compared to the county and state average of over 70%.
One vacant home on an otherwise stable block can significantly affect the value and stability of other houses that share the block. In order to maximize impact of Cornerstone’s efforts, housing improvements often focuses on renovating a block’s most visible vacant and blighted homes to catalyze investment and improve property values of adjacent homes and the block overall.
Cornerstone also leads clustered projects in which an average of ten homes “clustered” together are renovated or rebuilt. This approach has allowed homebuyers in the West Side to purchase with other new owners, promoting a more integrated community and support network.
Finally, each home that Cornerstone renovates or builds is developed with a key architectural feature—front porches with metal roofing, porch swings, unique address signage, and brick front facades. These details are added to build a sense of continuity across homes on the block and encourage individuals to spend time sitting on their porches and engaging with other residents.
Affordable Rental and Special Needs Housing
Providing the highest quality rental housing to those who need it most is key to promoting a healthy community. Transforming rundown, poorly managed, and or vacant homes is a critical component of revitalization. Cornerstone continues to identify opportunities and partners to help develop affordable rental units located within our community. Over the past decade, the organization has transformed existing homes to serve special needs populations, including youth aging out of foster care , the and individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities. These homes are designed to provide housing that blends in with current housing stock, helping individuals fully integrate into the community.
Home Repair Assistance for Homeowners
Through its home repair assistance program, Cornerstone supports existing low income and elderly homeowners improve their quality of life by providing standard household repairs and façade improvements. The majority of homes in our community are row homes in excess of 100 years old. A roof or major structural failure in one house can impact multiple row homes on a block which share common walls, contributing to neighborhood vacancies and blight. To date, the program not only helps individuals stay in their homes—by improving living conditions—but has also contributed to neighborhood stability by promoting reinvestment from other owners on the same block.
Following recent success, Cornerstone seeks to build out the initiative into a fully-fledged, fully funded program offering both façade improvements as well as major household repairs.
Through nearly $60 million in housing construction/rehabilitation projects from 2000-2016, Cornerstone has developed or improved over 275 units of housing for very low to moderate income families. This has not only provided stable housing for a very wide range of families, but has also stabilized the real-estate market for major portions of West Side. For example, Cornerstone’s housing strategy has led to increases in property value; according to the City of Wilmington’s recent Market Value Analysis (MVA), the housing market made up by Cornerstone’s target blocks ranked a full two categories higher than adjacent markets.
- Revitalization of a substandard, blighted, 72 unit rental project which had been an epicenter for crime into a model affordable rental facility.
- Built 11 units of special needs housing for youth who had aged out of foster care on a previously vacant lot.
- Provided technical support in the development of a planned 400 + unit rental revitalization complex in which the first 100 units are already funded and in the development process.
- Assisted 94 homeowners (primarily senior citizens experiencing major system failures in making home repairs) through renovations and/or façade improvements.
- Increased property values in targeted blocks by 50%
- Renovated or constructed over 220 affordable units that were sold to first time homeowners
- Brought the concept of (and training on) land banking to Delaware resulting in the Wilmington Land Bank
- Successfully lobbied to improve vacant housing law in Wilmington
- 2012-present: Serves as backbone organization coordinating West Side Grows Together neighborhood revitalization initiative. For updates, find us on Facebook here.
- 2012: Cornerstone facilitates the development of the West Side Revitalization Plan, involving over 650 residents in creating a vision for the future of the West Side and the steps we need to take together to make that vision a reality.
- 2011: Winner of Wilmington Renaissance’s “Partnership of the Year” Award for the creation of the Rodney Reservoir Community Garden, the largest community garden in the City of Wilmington. Check out the history of urban agriculture in the West Side here (link to West Side Urban Agriculture document).
- 2008: Cornerstone West was recognized by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) for its excellence in innovation in housing and community development and received the prestigious Award of Merit.
- 2008: Cornerstone West was the recipient of the MARC NAHRO Award of Excellence for Speakman Place.
- 2007: Cornerstone West received the Andrew J. Turner Fair Housing Award (from the Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware).
- 2005: Cornerstone West received the MARC NAHRO Award for Project Innovation and Community Revitalization
- 2003: Cornerstone received the DCRAC Excellence in Community Service Award.
- 2002: Cornerstone West was the recipient of the Ambassador Award from the Delaware Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
- 2001: Cornerstone West received the Housing Capacity Building Program Outstanding Work Award and the Organization Excellence Award for Housing Development.
- 2000: Cornerstone West received the HUD Best Practice Award.