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Village of Eastlake (Eastlake Public Housing Project)
Wilmington Housing Authority was founded in 1938 to clear slums and build new homes for the poor. This neighborhood, first of its kind in Delaware, was hastily created to provide wartime housing, for whites only. It followed the standards of the Federal Public Housing Authority. Always interested in enlightened city planning for Wilmington, architect Whiteside saw these housing developments as pieces of a larger civic improvement puzzle and promising in their break from the old pattern of rowhouses crammed together. Rather suburban in its approach, Eastlake consisted of semi-detached units surrounded by grass. Along with nearby Riverside and Eastlake Extension, it later offered shelter for the city's poorest residents, mostly African American. By the 1990s, Eastlake was blighted with drugs and violence. Federal funds allowed a $30 million “Hope VI” reconstruction designed to create a mixed-income community and promote home ownership. The design of the new buildings, with sash windows, gables, and porches, somewhat recalled the old Wilmington row-houses Whiteside had decried. The Weiner firm of Wilmington is well-known for its work in providing housing for low-income residents, having erected 10,000 apartments and homes throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The Eastlake redevelopment scheme was plagued with problems: the discovery of asbestos and lead delayed construction, and renovation did nothing to solve the crime problem in the surrounding areas or to bring in grocery stores and services. Some displaced residents complained that the new rules for admission, including holding a job and having no rent delinquencies for a year, were too harsh.
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