Unlikely homeowners fuel Detroit’s neighborhood growth thanks to innovative effort

Unlikely homeowners fuel Detroit’s neighborhood growth thanks to innovative effort
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Owning a home has been a dream of many but too often that dream is out of reach. Now, thanks to a partnership between Quicken Loans, the City of Detroit and the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) 80 Detroit renters will be given an opportunity to become homeowners and help build equity in the city.

These renters were facing displacement and uncertainty because their landlords failed to pay property taxes and the homes went into tax foreclosure. This program will offer current rental tenants an opportunity to purchase their home for between $2,500 and $5,500.

The purchase price of these homes will be determined according to the value of each home individually. Funds from each sale will then go back to UCHC – at no profit to the organization – and will be slated for future use in direct tax foreclosure outreach initiatives.

Housing activist and UCHC Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project Coordinator Michele Oberholtzer (right) helps residents like June Walker avoid eviction from rental properties owned by deadbeat landlords . Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

“The occupants of these homes were in a precarious situation because their landlords failed to pay property taxes, putting them at risk of eviction after the foreclosure auction,” says Michele Oberholtzer, UCHC Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project Coordinator. “Empowering these tenants to become homeowners achieves two important goals: residents are able to affordably start building equity in their home and neighborhood, and homes remain occupied.”

These homes were withdrawn from the tax foreclosure auction using funds donated by the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund (QLCIF).

“This program is another great example of how as our city grows, we, along with our partners in the private sector, are helping families that have faced challenges to stay in their homes,” says Mayor Mike Duggan. “Even better, it’s helping to convert renters into homeowners.”

The group of 80 renters had to meet the following requirements:

  • Passed HUD home inspection
  • No outstanding arrest warrants on record
  • Willing and able to assume the cost ($2,500-$5,500) of purchasing the home
Laura Grannemann, vice president of strategic investments for the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund believes the funding support, which  allow renters to buy the foreclosed homes they’ve invested in, will continue to stabilize Detroit neighborhoods.

“Keeping long-time residents in their homes is critical for Detroit’s stability and growth,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of strategic investments for the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund. “One step toward that goal is creating pathways to sustainable home ownership and occupancy in order to prevent future blight and build equity in our neighborhoods.”

Since beginning a partnership with the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force in 2013, the QLCIF has zeroed in on tax foreclosure as the number one driver of blight creation.  In May 2017, it partnered with UCHC to reach out to all occupants of Detroit homes facing tax foreclosure who had not applied for a payment plan with Wayne County. At total of 3,300 occupied homes were reached and 2,100 of them were able to avoid tax foreclosure, including 984 owner-occupied homes. Each renter within this canvassing effort was then contacted about interest in purchasing his or her home.

Editor’s Note: Marge Sorge is the managing editor of TheHUB Detroit. She recently retired from her leadership post at the Detroit Regional News Hub (Detroit Unspun), the heralded news organization she founded. Marge is recognized as an industry leader and frequently credited for transforming news coverage about Detroit and its neighborhoods.

Lead photo: Quicken Loans community week is one of the organization’s initiatives that support Detroit neighborhood revitalization. Photo courtesy of Quicken Loans

 

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