Moving To Work Graduate, Despite Tragedy, Pursuing the Dream of Homeownership

Moving To Work Graduate, Despite Tragedy, Pursuing the Dream of Homeownership
Laurie Stovall
Posted By: Laurie Stovall

In February 2015, Daniel and Cynthia Gray moved with their five children to Mifflin Meadows, a public housing community in Dover managed by the Delaware State Housing Authority. They also enrolled in the Moving to Work (MTW) program, a requirement for a person or family receiving public housing, Section 8, or Housing Choice Vouchers from the agency.  

MTW participants must sign a contract agreeing to take steps to become independent of government-assisted housing within seven years. Those steps include finding and maintaining a steady job and income, enrolling in career-oriented courses or training, or a combination of both. Participants must also work with a case manager to develop an action plan and meet with that person twice a year to report on their progress.  

To provide a work incentive, an MTW participant’s rent is capped at 35 percent of their adjusted monthly income, not to exceed $350. The participant’s rent increases as their income increases, but the amount they pay over $350 is invested into a savings or escrow account.  

After five years, if the participant’s income has increased enough to enable them to pay fair market-value rent, they transition out of the MTW program and are eligible to receive their entire escrow account. However, 60 percent of the funds must be used to purchase a home or to pay fair-market rent. The remaining 40 percent may be used for other expenses.

If an MTW participant’s income has not increased enough to pay the fair market value of their rental unit within five years, they may stay in the program for an additional two years and will receive 60 percent of their escrow account when they leave the program.  

Mr. and Mrs. Gray already had jobs when they moved to Mifflin Meadows. Mr. Gray worked as a custodian for a local hospital, and Mrs. Gray worked in a seasonal position at a Rehoboth Beach hotel. 

By February 2020, the Grays had been in the MTW program for five years, but for various reasons, they opted to stay for an additional year or two. Not long after that, widespread layoffs and other issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the decision to give MTW participants an extra six months to complete the program.

Despite that, the Grays began looking for a home to buy in 2021. Tragically, though, Mrs. Gray became ill with COVID-19 later in the year and passed away in December 2021.

Without Mrs. Gray’s income, Mr. Gray had to postpone the dream of buying a home. Because of his wife’s death, he was given a one-year hardship extension in the MTW program, and he continued living in Mifflin Meadows until November 2023, when he moved to a fair market rate rental unit in Millsboro.

Mr. Gray is again looking to buy a home and hopes to take advantage of DSHA’s first-time homebuyer programs that offer down payment and closing cost assistance. He has been working with a housing counselor to improve his credit and get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Mr. Gray says the MTW program was beneficial to him and his wife. 

“It’s a great program. We saved money, and it gave us the goal of homeownership. I’m still focused on that goal.”

When asked what advice he would give others just entering the MTW program, Mr. Gray says, “The program is what you make of it. You have to be willing to do the work, but it will pay off in the end.”

Media inquiries

Laurie M. Stovall
Director of Public Relations
Toll-Free (888) 363-8808

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