Delaware historic property becomes new home for people with disabilities

New life has been breathed into a historical Wilmington landmark, which will now serve as Delaware’s newest housing option for people with physical disabilities.

Wilmington Mayor James Baker, along with other city leaders and future residents of Garrett House attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Tuesday, outside the landmark building located at 609 Washington Street. 

The Garrett House, located in the Quaker Hill neighborhood, will give adults with physical disabilities a place to live, provided they meet federal income guidelines. Completed in December of 2011, the building has seven apartments, each with its own washer and dryer, an elevator and wide doors on the inside. Five out of the seven units are one-bedroom, and the other two units have two bedrooms.

The Garrett House is named after Wilmington abolitionist Thomas Garrett and was restructured from a historical landmark that housed slaves who traveled the Underground Railroad during the Civil War Era.

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“I think for the disabled, the housing is limited,” said Mayor Baker. “This house represents a great deal for Wilmington and also for having disabled housing for people is very critical because there is such a lack of. So that’s important, all the way around, historically and for dealing with people with disabilities and its location is very important.”

Independent Resources, Incorporated partnered with United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware, Inc. in 2005 to find low-income housing for those with physical disabilities. They raised money to renovate the building, which cost $1.8 million dollars to complete.

A worthwhile investment, according to Mayor Baker.

“It was an abandoned place and it was in terrible shape. It’s been a long time coming getting this completed, so that’s very, very important to get some of these vacant units done. A lot of people think that vacancies are just done, but people own these properties and have to buy the properties, and get the money to rehab them. It’s very expensive work and so the job looks great and the building looks great so it’s just part of what you do to make things better. Having it completed, having it occupied, having a historic building restored, and not vacant, it all has pluses, no negatives.”

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the City of Wilmington, the Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), JPMorgan Chase, the Delaware State Housing Authority, Delmarva Power, Crystal Trust, First State Community, Bank of America, the Longwood Foundation, First State Community Loan Fund also provided additional funding towards the Garrett House.

Potential residents are in the process of being interviewed for the apartments. In order to apply for a unit, individuals must contact United Cerebral Palsy of Delaware, Inc. at 302-764-2400 and request an application.

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