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DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
In 1970 the State of Delaware implemented the cabinet form of government in an effort to end the duplication of activities occurring in its previous commission form of government. The Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development, was created at that time and became the umbrella agency for the supervision of activities which directly effected the economic well being of the people of Delaware. It assumed the “watchdog” functions of State government and saw to the protection of all citizens but especially the disadvantaged, handicapped, minorities, and women.1
The Secretary of the Department, a gubernatorial appointee, supervised, directed, administered all divisions created by the General Assembly, and appointed directors to head each of the divisions. The earliest divisions, either newly established or composites of earlier agencies, were as follows:
1. An Office of Human Relations which assumed the responsibilities of the State Human
2. An Office of Local Governmental Services which was to assist, cooperate with, and provide technical assistance to local governing bodies;
3. A Division of Economic Development which assumes the functions and responsibilities of the Delaware State Development Office and the State of Delaware Industrial Building Commission;
4. A Council on Industrial Financing which served as an advisory body to the Director of Economic Development on matters of refinancing and modernizing the industrial facilities within the State;
5. A Division of Housing which assumed the duties of the Department of Housing and the State Bureau of Housing;
6. A Council on Housing, an advisory board to the Director of the Division of Housing;
7. A Division of Libraries which assumed the powers and responsibilities of the earlier Library Commission;
8. An advisory board for libraries, the Council on Libraries; and
three branches which specifically dealt with consumer protection: the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Consumer Affairs Board, and advisory Council on Consumer Affairs. The Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs was required to make an annual report detailing the Department’s activities and including any recommendations to the Governor and to the General Assembly.2
Efforts have continued within the State to deal expeditiously with difficult situations confronting the citizens. In 1978 the Office of the Public Advocate was added to the Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development. Its function was the representation of the interests of Delaware consumers in any matters involving investor owned utilities.3 The legislature moved to monitor, and thus to end, discrimination within the State based on sex by establishing the Delaware Commission for Women and placing its administration under the auspices of the Department of Community Affairs in 1982.4 The needs of the homeless and battered parents and/or children were addressed through the Emergency Housing Fund Administration Board which was placed within the Department in 1984. It was tasked with providing the monetary means for providing food, shelter, and counseling support services to eligible persons.5 In 1984 a Division of Volunteer Services and its advisory Council on Volunteer Services were established and lodged in this Department. The Division and its Council act as clearinghouses for matching the talents and time of State residents with programs needing assistance.6 The Department assumed some of the responsibilities for the handicapped within the State in 1983 when the Governor established the Developmental Disability Planning Council.7 In 1986 the Office of Handicapped Services was placed within the Department as the agency primarily responsible for services to the handicapped.8
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
In 1981 a major restructuring of the Department occurred. The legislature transferred all of the duties and functions of the Division of Economic Development to a newly instituted Delaware Development Office. This office operates within the executive branch of the State government.9 This action continued the separation process begun in 1980 when the General Assembly created the Delaware Economic Authority which assumed the refinancing and modernization operations previously lodged in the Department of Community Affairs and Economic Development.10
The Department of Community Affairs continued to address the unique needs of Delaware’s citizens. In 1989 the Department conducted programs for the handicapped through the Office of Handicapped Services, the State Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities, the State Advisory Council for the Coordination of Services to the Handicapped, and the Council on Deaf Equality. The Department’s composition in 1989 also included the following:
1. Delaware Commission for Women;
2. Office of the Public Advocate (and the Council to the Public Advocate);
3. Division of Consumer Affairs (and the Consumer Affairs Board, Council on Consumer Affairs, Council on Manufactured Housing);
4. Division of Libraries (and the Council on Libraries);
5. Division of Volunteer Services (and the Council on Volunteer Services, Foster Grandparents, RSVP);
6. Division of Human Relations (and the State Human Relations Commission, Council on Hispanic Affairs);
7. Division of Community Services (and the Emergency Housing Administration Board).11
As part of the FY92 budgeting process the Department of Community Affairs was dismantled and its functions transferred to other agencies as follows:
1. Community Services whose mission is the coordination and provision of services to
individuals with low-incomes and disabilities by administering three federal grants: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant (LIHEAP); The Weatherization Assistance Continuation Grant (WAP); and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) was transferred to the Department of Health and Social Services.
2. Handicapped Services which provides staff support for the Development Disabilities Planning Council, the Council for Persons with Disabilities and the Council on Deaf Equality was transferred as a Division to the Department of Administrative Services.
3. The Division of Libraries was transferred to the Department of State.
4. The Division of Consumer Affairs was transferred to the Department of Administrative Services.
5. The Office of the Public Advocate was also transferred to the Department of Administrative Services to be combined with Consumer Affairs.
6. The Office of Human Relations with responsibilities for protecting the rights of citizens of Delaware against racial, religious, and sexual discrimination and against housing discrimination was transferred to the Department of State.
7. As the primary objective of the Commission for Women is reduction of dependency through entry into the work force the Commission was moved to the Department of Labor.12
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
1 57 DL, ch. 583.
3 61 DL, ch. 527.
4 63 DL, ch. 226.
5 64 DL, ch. 425.
6 64 DL, ch. 313.
7 Executive Order 123, 1983.
8 65 DL, ch. 87.
9 63 DL, ch. 189.
10 62 DL, ch. 559.
11 67 DL, ch. 47.
12 68 DL, ch. 84.
sle; October 30, 1989;
jam; July 8, 1992
Related Topics: Community Affairs