Detroit renters become homeowners through pilot program
Detroit — Despite paying rent every month, Denise Tanks was facing eviction from her west-side home after her landlord failed to pay property taxes on the house for three years.
Through a program announced Tuesday, Tanks will not only be able to stay, she’ll be able to buy her home. She is among 80 renters to purchase their homes for between $2,500 and $5,500, depending on the value of the house.
“It’s a blessing,” said Tanks, 30. “I always wanted to own a home.”
The Detroit City Council approved Tuesday a resolution authorizing the Wayne County Tax Foreclosures Right of First Refusal 2017 Non-owner Occupied Home Pilot Program.
The program is a partnership between Quicken Loans, the City of Detroit and the United Community Housing Coalition.
The Detroit homes were withdrawn from the tax foreclosure auction using donated funds by the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund.
“Keeping long-time residents in their homes is critical for Detroit’s stability and growth,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of Strategic Investments for the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund, in a statement Tuesday.
“One step toward that goal is creating pathways to sustainable homeownership and occupancy in order to prevent future blight and build equity in our neighborhoods.”
Tanks said when she started receiving letters in the mail regarding tax foreclosure at her brick home on Euclid, she asked her landlord about it. She said the woman brushed it off and minimized how much she owed in taxes. The situation made Tanks leary and she wondered if she would be kicked out of her home.
“I questioned a lot of things in the beginning,” she said. “Why am I going through all of this? I try to do the best I can do.”
In May, the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund partnered with the United Community Housing Coalition to reach out to occupants of Detroit houses facing foreclosure who had not applied for payment plans with Wayne County.
Of the 3,300 occupied homes reached, 2,100 were able to avoid tax foreclosure, including 984 owner-occupied homes. Renters reached through the canvassing effort were contacted to see if they were interested in purchasing their home.
A group of 80 renters were identified as potential homeowners because they met the requirements of passing home inspection with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, had no outstanding arrest warrants and were able to purchase their homes for between $2,500-$5,500.
Tank said the housing coalition knocked on her door, provided her information about her rights and the possibility of buying her home. She said she’ll be able to purchase her home for around $3,000. She says the spacious two-family flat is perfect for her and her two children, ages 6 and 10.
“I loved the house when I first saw it,” she said.
Renters participating in the program live throughout the city, with each district represented, according to a map provided by Quicken Loans.
“Empowering these tenants to become homeowners achieves two important goals,” said Michele Oberholtzer, UCHC Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project Coordinator. “Residents are able to affordably start building equity in their home and neighborhood and homes remain occupied.”