The Make It Home program was developed by Rocket Community Fund in partnership with United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), the City of Detroit, and other funders, with the goal of preventing homes from entering the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction.
Through Make It Home, the City exercises their Right of Refusal (the option to purchase foreclosed properties before they are sold in the auction) and transfers them to UCHC, who purchases them with funding provided by Rocket Community Fund and other sources. UCHC then sells them to the residents through a payment plan, upon completion of which the resident is deeded the home, free and clear.
Approximately one year ago, we announced the results of our 2019 Make It Home efforts, which saw an additional 557 properties enter the program for a total of 1,157 families served. We also announced an additional investment into our Make It Home repair program, increasing our investment by $700,000 for a total of $1 million in repair funding for eligible homes.
Today, we are proud to share new research supported by Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan that shows how this $1 million home repair grant program has helped homeowners with low incomes complete major home repair projects that improve the quality and safety of their housing and increase their chances of remaining in their homes long term.
In addition to interviewing homeowners, Poverty Solutions researchers reviewed intake data for 218 Make It Home homeowners who sought home repair assistance. Key findings from the research included the following:
- Program participants faced multiple, major home repair needs that impacted the safety and livability of their homes. Program-eligible homeowners reported an average of three major repair needs. The most common need related to roofing.
- Small-sum repair grants addressed many of participants’ critical repair needs. A median of $6,000 per participant in monetary and in-kind grants enabled homeowners to address, on average, one of every two major repair needs.
- Homeowners reported improvements to the safety of their housing and stability of their ownership as a result of the program. All participants said the program was “very important” or “important” for their household’s safety and ability to stay in the home; one-quarter reported that without the program, they would have had to leave the home permanently.
- The program provided homeowners streamlined access to emergency repair funds that likely would have been unavailable otherwise, but gaps and challenges remain. All of the homeowners interviewed stated it would have been difficult to make repairs without the program; 75% were “not confident at all” they would have accessed another grant or loan for assistance. Still, ongoing repair needs and high housing cost burdens remain a challenge for some participants.
While the report showed a strong connection between Make It Home and improved stability for participants, it also made recommendations for how to build on the success of the program. For those interested in learning more, check out the full policy brief.
“Make It Home takes an incredibly destructive system and uses it to instead build homeownership, wealth and stability for hundreds of Detroit families,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund. “Our $1 million investment into the repair program has funded improvements that have turned these houses into homes, and we’re grateful to Poverty Solutions for their critical research highlighting the efficacy of this program.”