Duggan: Repair Detroit One House at a Time
|On Friday, June 5, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan unveiled a new initiative that will help city employees buy and repair homes in the city. The new pilot mortgage loan program is available to all active and contract city workers who purchase a home through the Detroit Land Bank Authority’s home auctions this year.
The Great Recession and high unemployment led to a rash of vacant urban homes in Detroit; however, Mayor Duggan says the new loan program will be a salve for neighborhoods suffering from urban blight. And because only half of the city’s employees actually live within the Detroit city limits, the mayor hopes the program will boost employee residency as well.
Detroit city workers with a credit score of at least 620 will be eligible for the loans, so long as they volunteer for financial counseling. Then, home buyers can receive 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages of up to 300% of the home’s value to make needed repairs. The loans will be available to city employees, retirees, contract workers, and their families.
“We want to find constructive ways to get folks back,” said Mayor Duggan. “This is what we are going to continue to do. It’s our way of saying thank you to the employees.”
In March, the mayor rolled out another home improvement incentive program to help the city’s low-income residents. The Duggan administration and nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. offered low-income homeowners interest-free loans of up to $25,000 for home repair and improvement projects. Typically, homeowners spend as much as 4% of their home’s value on repairs every year, and many residents in high-poverty neighborhoods will benefit from the program. The interest-free home improvement loans cover necessities like window replacement, plumbing, and roof repair costs.
The programs are just the latest headlines to come from an ongoing effort to revitalize Detroit’s neighborhoods. In February, the Mayor offered a 50% discount to employees who bought homes at auction.
“This isn’t about publicity,” said Sandro DiNello, CEO of Flagstar Bank, which partnered with the mayor for the new loan program. “This is about getting something together that works…It’s important that we provide this little boost to getting these neighborhoods back on their feet.”