Rocket Community Fund, United Community Housing Coalition and City of Detroit Help 1,500 Detroit Families Become Homeowners Through Make It Home Program
- Through Make It Home, Detroiters whose landlords failed to pay property taxes not only stay in their home, they have the opportunity to own it.
- Rocket Community Fund committed $1 million in new funding to support this year’s new homeowners, including $750,000 focused on home repair support.
DETROIT, OCTOBER 25, 2023 – The Rocket Community Fund, Mayor Mike Duggan and the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) today announced that 104 Detroit families will become homeowners through the Make It Home program this year, bringing the program’s total to 1,500 families that have avoided tax foreclosure-related displacement since the program’s launch in 2017.
Make It Home enables eligible Detroiters occupying tax-foreclosed houses to become homeowners rather than face 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, or two times the state equalized value (SEV) if a Claim of Interest was filed by the previous owner. These properties are then purchased by the United Community Housing Coalition using philanthropic funding from the Rocket Community Fund.
UCHC sells the properties to the occupants through a 0% interest land contract with a payment plan that enables each resident to make payments into an escrow account for roughly a year until they reach the purchase price for their property. This year, families paid an average of $8,400 to achieve homeownership. Upon completing their payments, they receive the deed to their property, while also gaining access to home repair grants, loans and financial counseling provided through the program.
“Make It Home was created to transform a complex and inequitable system into an opportunity to build homeownership, wealth and stability for Detroit families.” said Laura Grannemann, Executive Director of the Rocket Community Fund. “However, homeownership is a journey, not a destination. We are proud to work alongside our partners at UCHC and the City of Detroit to deepen the impact of Make It Home by expanding access to home repair grants and loans to participating families.”
“When Dan Gilbert came to me with this idea several years ago, it didn’t take long for me to get on board. Most foreclosures in Detroit aren’t homeowners who stopped paying their mortgage bills, they’re landlords who have not made the payments, even while their renters are,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Thanks to Laura Grannemann and the Rocket Community Fund, Ted Phillips and UCHC, and the hard work of our team here at the city, we can now say there are 1,500 families who are proud homeowners. Make It Home is strengthening neighborhoods and families and helping build generational wealth.”
Demetrius Brown is one of the residents benefitting from Make It Home this year. Brown, a 57-year-old lifelong resident of Detroit, currently resides in the Brightmoor neighborhood with his three daughters, ages 5, 9 and 11. Brown has been living in the home for 15 years and faithfully paid his rent, despite facing health issues that prevented him from continuing his work as a contractor and plumber, causing extreme financial challenges.
“I am incredibly fortunate for the support from UCHC and their assistance in helping me secure a place in the Make It Home program,” said Brown. “This opportunity is like a long-awaited sigh of relief. It means that I can maintain this home, providing my three daughters with the chance to grow up in a stable and nurturing environment. We’ll continue to create cherished memories here, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”
“As the country experiences homeownership challenges, I am proud that the Make it Home Program is one of many the City of Detroit uses to provide stable homeownership for Mr. Brown and so many other Detroit residents,” said Council President Pro Tempore James Tate Jr. “The promise of homeownership remains an important staple for Detroit residents to ensure families like Mr. Brown and his children can prosper in the City of Detroit. I remain committed to supporting the Make it Home Program and others that will aid families with a path forward toward homeownership.”
“I am proud to support Make It Home, a program dedicated to helping Detroiters achieve homeownership,” said city councilmember Fred Durhal. “It’s a fundamental step in enhancing and stabilizing our neighborhoods, not only within District 7 but throughout our entire city.”
Comprehensive Housing Support
UCHC is a Detroit nonprofit that has provided comprehensive housing assistance to low-income residents since 1973. In addition to administering the Make It Home program, the organization helps thousands of families each year to retain homeownership through workshops on City programs, such as the Homeowner Property Exemption (HOPE), Pay As You Stay (PAYS) and the Gilbert Family Foundation-funded Detroit Tax Relief Fund.
“Thanks to the support of the Rocket Community Fund, the City of Detroit and the dedication of UCHC staff, Make It Home empowers Detroit residents to reclaim their homes, rebuild their futures and become homeowners,” said Ted Phillips, Executive Director, United Community Housing Coalition. “Every year, we continue to be amazed by the program’s impact and how it is bolstering the city’s growth and ensuring the well-being of residents.”
Expanded Support for Home Repair
For many participants in the Make It Home program, getting the deed is just the first step toward long-term stability. The Make It Home repair program was founded in 2019 to support participants who were left facing deferred maintenance from former owners. Through grants and low-interest loans funded by the Rocket Community Fund and administered by UCHC, Make It Home participants can address critical repairs focused on health and habitability.
Since 2019, 566 homes have benefited from Make It Home-associated repair resources. This year, the Rocket Community Fund committed an additional $750,000 to the program, bringing its total support for repair funding to $3 million.
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 team members to provide more than one million volunteer hours nationwide, including more than 720,000 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.