Make It Home Program Helps Additional 239 Families Become Homeowners

Make It Home Program

Make It Home Program Helps Additional 239 Families Become Homeowners

October 13, 2022

Rocket Community Fund, Mayor Duggan, and United Community Housing Coalition celebrate Make It Home program helping nearly 250 more Detroit residents become homeowners

  • Detroiters whose landlords failed to pay property taxes will not only get to stay in their home, now they will get to own it.
  • Program has helped nearly 1,400 families since its launch in 2017.
  • Rocket Community Fund will further expand repair program to provide grants and 0% interest loans to participants through an additional $1 million investment.

DETROIT – The Rocket Community Fund, Mayor Mike Duggan and the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) announced today that 239 Detroit families will become homeowners through the Make It Home program this year, bringing the program’s total to 1,396 families that have avoided tax foreclosure-related displacement since the program’s launch in 2017.

Make It Home assists eligible Detroiters that occupy tax-foreclosed houses to become homeowners instead of risking eviction. The program leverages the City of Detroit’s “right of refusal,” allowing the City to purchase properties before the tax foreclosure auction for the value of the back taxes owed. These properties are then sold to United Community Housing Coalition using philanthropic funding from the Rocket Community Fund. UCHC works with each resident over the course of about a year for make them the owner of the property. Residents pay an average of less than $10,000 to become a homeowner through this program.

“Having access to stable and affordable housing is a right, not a privilege. Five years ago, we started the Make It Home program with 80 participants, and today we have built a force for creating homeownership and generational wealth,” said Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund. “Stable housing is just the beginning. We are staying connected with Make It Home families to provide additional wraparound support. The number one need that families identify is home repair resources. As a result, we are thrilled to dedicate an additional $1 million to support grants and 0% interest loans for these new homeowners.”

“Make It Home is one of the most impactful programs that the city manages,” Mayor Duggan said. “We are reducing the number of foreclosures in our city and helping to stabilize many of our neighborhoods, while also helping more Detroiters realize the dream of homeownership and building generational wealth.”

One of the 239 households benefiting from the program this year is that of Barbara Sledge. She had lived in her Eden Gardens home for four years. She paid her rent on time and even fixed up her home, but she was still at risk of being evicted when her landlord lost the home due to nonpayment of taxes. Instead, thanks to Make It Home, she will become a homeowner for the first time at age 52.

“Make It Home took a lot of stress off me because I wanted to stay in Detroit and didn’t want to lose my home. I always treated this home like mine, and I’m glad I can finally call it mine,” she said. “The entire experience of dealing with this program and the partners, has been fantastic. I’m looking forward to eventually passing this home down to my children one day and continuing to thrive and support my neighborhood. I’m even the captain of my block club!”

Latisha Johnson, who represents Sledge in District 4, has been an advocate for the program.

“I am very pleased that the Rocket Community Fund & United Community Housing Coalition have pulled 239 properties out of the county tax foreclosure process this year for the Make It Home program,” Johnson said. “It pleases me even more to know that the City of Detroit and District 4 is about to add more homeowners to our communities, and that my neighbors, my team, and I played a significant role in making it happen.”

Added Councilman Fred Durhal, whose council district has seen a number of residents benefit from Make It Home: “With more than 200 District 7 families enrolled and becoming homeowners, I am proud to support Make It Home, helping ensuring Detroit families won’t be displaced and creating generational wealth. This is an essential program for strengthening and stabilizing our neighborhoods, not just in District 7 but across the city.”

How it Works

Through the program, the City exercises its right of refusal to purchase tax-foreclosed properties before they are sold at auction, and transfers them to UCHC, which purchases them with funding provided by the Rocket Community Fund. UCHC then sells them to the residents through a 0% interest land contract with a payment plan. When the resident finishes paying off the sale price, they receive the deed to their home, free and clear. Throughout the program, residents also have access to home repair grants and loans, as well as financial counseling.

UCHC, a Detroit nonprofit that provides comprehensive housing assistance to low-income residents, has worked to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities for low-income Detroiters since 1973. In addition to administering the Make It Home program, UCHC helps thousands of families each year to retain homeownership through workshops on City programs that help Detroiters stay in their homes, such as Homeowner Property Exemption (HOPE), Pay As You Stay (PAYS) and the Gilbert Family Foundation-funded Detroit Tax Relief Fund.

“Make It Home proves the ability of low-income Detroiters, with a little help, to become homeowners,” said Ted Phillips, UCHC’s executive director. “Fully repaid zero interest loans from these buyers has enabled the program to continue to create more homeowners and help stabilize more communities.”

Help With Home Repairs

In 2022, eligible residents are able to participate in the Make It Home repair program. The repair program was created in 2019 to ensure the stability of Make It Home participants who were often experiencing the negative consequences of deferred maintenance. Through grants and 0% interest loans, UCHC helps residents address home health and habitability home repairs. Since the launch of the Make It Home Repair program, 1,025 repairs have been completed in more than 322 homes.  

A recent study by University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, identified that 92% of residents who benefited from home repair services reported that the Make It Home repair program improved the safety of their housing and stability of their homeownership, indicating that home repairs are essential for building and sustaining low-income homeownership. The program gave homeowners streamlined access to repair funds that would likely have been unavailable through existing sources.

By the Numbers

The program utilizes a revolving loan fund design as well as grant support to sustain. This means that as residents pay into their purchase price, that money goes directly to help participants in future Make It Home cohorts. Of all funding loaned out since Make It Home began in 2017, 99% of this funding has been replenished back into the revolving loan fund as of October 2022. As interest in the program has increased demand for participation, we have seen cohorts grow over time. However, moratorium on tax foreclosures in 2020-21 resulted in little to no eligible properties for Make It Home for two years. A partial moratorium in 2022 meant many residents prepared to participate in Make It Home in 2022 were no longer eligible, because their home did not foreclose. This resulted in a smaller cohort in 2022 than was seen in 2019, the last year this program was formally run.

2017:

  • 80 properties entered Make It Home

2018:

  • 519 properties entered Make It Home

2019:

  • 557 properties entered Make It Home

2020:

No properties because of the property tax auction pause due to COVID.

2021:

  • 3 properties entered Make It Home 

                                                                 ###                  

About the Rocket Community Fund

The Rocket Community Fund aims to simplify complex and inequitable systems to ensure that every American has access to stable, healthy housing. It also invests in people and practices that provide meaningful opportunities for education and employment. Through its For-More-Than-Profit model, the Rocket Community Fund recognizes that business and community are inextricably linked, and it purposefully harnesses team member talent, technology, policy advocacy and philanthropic resources to invest in comprehensive community development in Detroit and across the country. Alongside financial investments, the Rocket Community Fund has organized Rocket Companies, Bedrock and other affiliated team members to provide more than 865,000 volunteer hours nationwide, including 430,000 in Detroit. For more information, visit RocketCommunityFund.org.   

About United Community Housing Coalition

The United Community Housing Coalition’s Mission is to help low-income residents stay in their homes and strengthen their communities, through representation, support, and ownership. ​United Community Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing housing assistance to Detroit’s low-income residents. Since 1973, they have worked to keep people in their homes and secure affordable housing for those in need. ​They believe that having a place to live is a basic human right and are passionate about preserving this right in our communities. Their services are provided to income-eligible families and individuals free of charge. For more information, go to uchcdetroit.org.

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