Low-Income Black Homeowners in Detroit Can Apply for $20 Million in Home Repair Grants

Mainly targeting low-income Black homeowners in Detroit, three organizations are providing $20 million in funding to help residents with much-needed home repairs.

Described as the only 100 percent grant program of its type in the Midwest, the Detroit Home Repair Fund (DHRF) is funded by the Gilbert Family FoundationProMedica, and DTE Energy. That trio, committed to offering the funds over the next three years, announced the program will serve over 1,000 Detroit homeowners.

Offering many options for home repairs

The average amount spent on each home will be about $10,000, organizers say. The DHRF expects repairs will be made in several areas, including for roofs, foundations, stairs, windows, and drywall.

One of the program’s goals is to “holistically address Detroit housing stability by leveraging multiple home repair resources at once.” Accordingly,  the first track of DHRF will be used by community partners already working with DTE Energy’s, Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) Program. Owner-occupied Detroit homeowners with income at or below the 200 percent federal poverty line who have applied for the 2022 Homeowner Property Exemption (HOPE) will be eligible for the grants.

Nearly 8,500 owner-occupied homes in Detroit are “inadequate or severely inadequate,” a report by the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions revealed. It was reported “people living in unsafe, unhealthy homes are at greater risk of developing health conditions like asthma, suffering injuries from trips and falls, and struggling to pay utilities bills.”

Helping make homes safer for residents to live in

Jennifer Gilbert, co-founder of the Gilbert Family Foundation, which is investing $10 million to launch the initiative, said, “Stable housing is about more than a place to live, it is about ensuring residents and their families feel safe and secure in their home[s].” The  foundation’s fresh investment is part of its $500 million commitment to building opportunity and equity in Detroit.

A national health and well-being organization, ProMedica is pledging to raise $8 million for the effort through its Impact Fund.

“There is already significant evidence that healthier, safer homes are critical for people to be healthy and to spend more time at school, work, and with loved ones and less time in the hospital,” said Randy Oostra, president and chief executive officer of Promedica.

For its part, DTE Energy is investing $2 million into the DHRF through a philanthropic commitment, along with expanding its Detroit-based EEA efforts and its Health and Safety Pilot. It was disclosed that DTE’s EEA program “allows income-qualified homeowners to make their home more energy efficient by providing them with multiple products to help reduce their monthly bill and make their homes more affordable. The energy-efficiency products include heating system tune-ups or replacements, high efficiency water heaters, energy-efficient refrigerators, energy-efficient lighting, and home weatherization services.’”

Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer of DTE Electric, added, “We are committed to powering homes and powering brighter futures for Detroit residents through the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program, and now through the Detroit Home Repair Fund. Together, these programs will provide a greater reach and greater impact to families across our hometown of Detroit.”

Contractors in the Motor City Contractor Fund (MCCF) will be prioritized to make repairs in the DHRF project, organizers say.

Creating a difference with home makeovers  

The Gilbert Family Foundation and ProMedica’s commitment to the DHRF will be administered by Enterprise Community Partners and Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI).

The program is expected to benefit longtime Detroit residents like Loretta Powell. She has lived in Detroit’s Good Stock Community since 1967, and at her current home since 1997. Last year, she took part in DTE’s EEA program, receiving a new water heater and furnace for her home. Yet, she has more repair needs that she hopes to gain through the DHRF.

“I need new windows, I have a deck that needs to be repaired and there are other issues that need to be addressed,” Powell said.

“While canvassing in my neighborhood, I’ve visited homes with stairs that were unsafe, and seen first-hand how desperately needed home repair is in Detroit. I’m grateful to the Gilbert Family Foundation, DTE Energy and ProMedica for this investment in me, my neighbors and my community.”

For more details about DHRF, Detr—oit residents can call (313) 306-2082.

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