Not many non-profit businesses can say they’ve turned squatters into homeowners.
But there is an organization in Detroit that does this and more.
Man Power Mentoring, Inc. was established about five years ago as a personal and property development program by Executive Director Xzun Bellefant. The organization works on neighborhood properties to reduce blight, make houses livable and help individuals become home-owner-ready.
“It’s a tier system,” Bellefant says. “So you come from a shelter situation and then you can possibly become a renter, and if you’re renting then you could possibly receive a land contract. Then a person can graduate into a traditional mortgage.”
Man Power Mentoring has serviced more than 74 people in this capacity. Bellefant says the goal is to prepare 12 homeowners a year. On the property development side, he says the organization has cleaned up 19 homes.
“This program is possible because of partnerships with investors, banks, realtors and brokers,” he says. “So we focus on investors who are interested in not just flipping properties but also ensuring people become homeowners.”
Man Power Mentoring recently announced a partnership with the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). Lana Zaghmout, DLBA’s occupied properties program manager, says support from programs like Man Power increases efforts to keep residents in their homes.
“As a DLBA Community Partner, Man Power will expand the outreach of our Occupied Non-Profit Program,” she says. “Man Power will be purchasing and rehabbing DLBA-owned, occupied properties, then find ways to place the ownership of these properties into the hands of its occupants.”
Real estate in Detroit is sometimes difficult because banks are not going to fund properties worth lesser amounts like $10,000 or offer conventional loans for $25,000 properties. In spite of signs of the city’s recovery, progress has been slow for many, especially those who have bad credit or have been unemployed, Bellefant says.
“It’s not only the individual that has to be ready, but the investor,” he says. “The property has to be of value enough for the investment.”
Man Power volunteer Kenneth Williams has been working with the organization for about a year as a credit counselor and trainer. He says he deals with a lot of residents who have bad credit, but has made some mortgage-ready.
“It’s a good program and I enjoy doing it,” he says.
“We’re getting people who probably didn’t think they could own houses. Sometimes you might have someone who’s squatting, we enroll them into the program and they are able to buy a home,” Williams adds. “That’s the best situation I can think of – a squatter to a homeowner.”
Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go.