City launches $ 30 million home repair program for low-income residents

A new program aims to replace 1,000 roofs for low-income seniors and homeowners with disabilities in Detroit, city officials said Thursday.

Founded by US $ 30 Million Federal Government Bailout, the program is the first initiative resulting from more than $ 400 million in pandemic recovery dollars the city of Detroit received, and will triple the amount the city is currently spending on its existing home repair program.

“We have seen literally hundreds of thousands of Detroiters leave town over the past 20 or 25 years. We wanted to prioritize the owners who stayed and reward them for it,” Mayor Mike Duggan said at a press conference Thursday.

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The first phase of the program, which will take applications from Friday to October 31, is expected to replace 1,000 roofs. Eighty percent of the requests the city receives under its senior home repair program are for new roofs, Duggan said, and 50% of Detroit residents have been denied weatherization grants houses because they have bad roofs.

The next phase, slated to start in a year, is expected to provide additional repairs to 500 more homes. The city has yet to determine what the work will involve, but it could include electrical or plumbing repairs, Duggan said.

There are three criteria to be eligible for this program: the owner must be 62 years of age or older or a person of any age with a disability; they must be approved for poverty tax exemption through the Homeowners ‘Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP) which is now called the Homeowners’ Property Exemption (HOPE); and they must not have received a city home repair grant of $ 10,000 or more in the past decade.

Homeowners will be chosen based on the length of their property, their level of poverty exemption (i.e. the lower their income, the higher their priority), the number of people in the house and if they are already on a waiting list for home repairs or weatherization.

Patricia Maxwell, 65, of Detroit owns this home in the Islandview neighborhood which she says is in need of basement repairs on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. As a senior, Maxwell says she s 'is enrolled in the Senior Citizen Home Repair program.  with the City of Detroit two years ago at the Butzel Family Center, but hasn't heard a word from the city about getting the necessary repairs.

No other names will be added to an existing home repair program that has a waiting list of 1,961 seniors, Duggan said. Those on this list will retain their place, but are also encouraged to apply for the new program.

Officials urged residents of Detroit to also apply for a poverty tax exemption, which is a requirement to qualify for roof repairs. The deadline to apply for a poverty tax exemption is November 12.

“We have to remember that we always have homeowners, in addition to the repairs they need, (who) are still struggling with paying their back taxes,” said Willie Donwell, board administrator for Property Assessment.

The Rocket Community Fund, which is part of the Rocket Companies, will fund a call center and hotline for the program.

“Very often we’ve seen that many people who are behind on their property taxes invest critical dollars in their back taxes, instead of their repairs,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund.

Community organizations and researchers said the extent of repair needs in Detroit is huge and the programs available are difficult to operate.

There were over 24,000 moderately or severely inadequate housing units in Detroit, according to the 2020 University of Michigan study, which analyzed data from the 2017 American Housing Survey. These could include homes with broken toilets, no working kitchen equipment, rats in the unit, exposed wires, and leaks. ‘water.

Ryan Ruggiero, lead researcher for the UM study, said it was great to see the city prioritize seniors based on length of time homeownership and focus on roof repairs because existing programs for seniors have long waiting lists or funds are used up quickly.

“We believe home repair is a critical issue – one of the most critical issues that people in Detroit face – primarily with regard to housing stability, but also other things that can lead to it, as providing a basis for economic opportunities for wealth creation. and obviously for the elderly, the ability to age in place, ”said Patrick Cooney, deputy director of policy impact at the Poverty Solution initiative from UM.

Nationwide, 51% of households live in houses built before 1980, compared to 90% in Detroit and 68% in the Detroit subway, a recent report of the Urban Institute based in Washington, DC found. In both regions, a greater proportion of black households live in homes built before 1960. Older homes may require major maintenance and repairs.

Residents of The Islandview neighborhood of Detroit and Davison Village East have even taken matters into their own hands recently, raising money online for essential home repairs.

The city is looking to hire Detroit-based contractors to do the repairs, Duggan said.

Applicants approved for the new program are expected to be notified by February 1, 2022, and repairs are expected to begin in the spring of this year and be completed within two years.

For more information, visit Applications can be completed online or by phone at 313-244-0274 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Nushrat Rahman covers economic mobility issues for the Detroit Free Press and Detroit Bridge as a member of the corps with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support their work at

Contact Nushrat: [email protected]; 313-348-7558. Follow her on Twitter: @NushratR. Sign up for Bridge Detroit newsletter. Become a Free Press subscriber.

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