Neighbor to Neighbor is the Rocket Community Fund’s neighborhood canvassing program aimed at supporting housing stability efforts in Detroit. We collect data from Detroit residents to determine their need of housing resources and more specifically, their risk for property tax foreclosure. The data we collect is used to support systemic change in the housing system. Since 2017, the program has achieved a 94% reduction in the number of occupied homes at risk for tax foreclosure. You can read the full report from our 2019 efforts here.
Recently, alongside our partners Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the Cleveland Foundation, we expanded this program to Cleveland, which will tackle a different set of challenges affecting housing stability and digital accessibility.
Today, we’re kicking off our third annual Neighbor to Neighbor campaign in Detroit, collaborating with Experian to make data collection safer and more efficient. Neighbor to Neighbor traditionally conducts a door-to-door campaign to aid residents in obtaining a property tax exemption through the Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP), now HomeOwners Property Exemption (HOPE). Thanks to Experian, we have contact information associated with Detroit residents, many of whom have been financially impacted by the pandemic. We’re using this data to inform our new outreach strategy, by calling 50,000 Detroit homeowners who are at risk for tax foreclosure.
“The Rocket Community Fund is obsessed with finding a better way to ensure that all Detroiters have access to a stable home,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Rocket Community Fund. “The ongoing pandemic has pushed us to find new ways of creatively reaching Detroiters to support them and collect data around their changing needs. Thanks to the collaboration with Experian, this year’s Neighbor to Neighbor does just that.”
This year’s survey will also include more extensive questions about home repair needs. As a result of our collaborative efforts with Experian, this new approach will increase the program’s efficacy while also reducing the time traditionally spent canvassing door-to-door.
“We recognize the pandemic has taken its toll on consumers across the country, and we’re committed to empowering and protecting those communities that are most impacted,” said Genevieve Juillard, President of Experian Marketing Services and Data Quality. “Working alongside the Rocket Community Fund allows us to help and serve these consumers, but more importantly, provide them with the resources needed to have confident stable housing.”
The Rocket Community Fund will also underwrite the costs for nonprofit partners to hire 20 full-time phone canvassers, who will make $20 per hour throughout the campaign, which is expected to last 8-12 weeks.
“The Rocket Community Fund and its Neighbor to Neighbor partners continue doing an outstanding job helping Detroiters stay in their homes by connecting them to property tax exemptions through our HOPE program,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “This new partnership with Experian will allow us to connect with more residents who need tax relief, and may have home repair needs, as part of our ongoing work to strengthen neighborhoods.”
In 2020, the Rocket Community Fund invested $1 million into the City of Detroit’s 0% interest home repair loan program after 38% of Neighbor to Neighbor respondents indicated their structures needed critical maintenance. The organization is also donating the costs of a call center for the City’s Renew Detroit home repair program.
This year, a record 13,000 individuals have enrolled in HOPE. Detroit homeowners with back taxes who have enrolled in HOPE and the Pay as You Stay program (PAYS) are automatically eligible for support from the Detroit Tax Relief Fund, which eliminates property tax debt owed by low-income homeowners. The Detroit Tax Relief Fund is a Gilbert Family Foundation program administered by the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. This fund has paid off the tax debt of more than 2,000 Detroit families with a few thousand more in the pipeline.
*Editor’s Note: Quotes and information originally appeared as a press release in the Rocket Mortgage Press Room. Read it here.