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Mayor Duggan, state lawmakers announce $15M boost to Renew Detroit low-income home repair program

2022

Mayor Duggan, state lawmakers announce $15M boost to Renew Detroit low-income home repair program

  • Renew Detroit expands to $45M commitment, will now assist 2,000 seniors and disabled Detroiters instead of 1,500.
  • Phase 2 applications open Oct. 1 for roof replacements or, thanks to new funds, windows.

DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, along with state lawmakers and housing officials, celebrated today $15 million in additional funding for the Renew Detroit program, which will help more lower-income seniors and homeowners with disabilities receive major home repairs. Announced last fall as a $30 million home repair program, Renew Detroit has now grown to $45 million and will help 2,000 Detroiters instead of 1,500 over its two phases.

“It is so important that we help longtime Detroiters remain in their home, and one of the best ways we can do that is to help them make the major repairs they cannot afford on their own,” Mayor Duggan said.  “Thanks to these five Detroit state lawmakers, we are going to double the number of Detroiters we can help with the second phase of the Renew Detroit program.”

The five Detroit Democrats – state Reps. Helena Scott, Shri Thanedar, Karen Whitsett, Tenisha Yancey and Stephanie Young – helped earmark $15 million in state American Rescue Plan Act funding to expand the program.

“I am honored to help expand this crucial program that serves Detroit’s most vulnerable population,” said Rep. Young, who represents northwest Detroit. “Our senior and disabled homeowners are the most likely to have fixed incomes and therefore the least likely to be able to keep up with rising costs of home repair and maintenance.”

Added Rep. Scott, who also represents northwest Detroit, as well as Highland Park: “I am dedicated to helping my constituents and applaud the City of Detroit’s continued dedication to helping residents fix up their homes and build equity in our neighborhoods.”

Historically, the City has funded 200 to 250 annual home repairs through its Community Development Block Grant-funded Senior Emergency Home Repair (SEHR) program at a cost of up to $6 million per year. With demand far exceeding the funding available, Renew Detroit was launched to tap ARPA funds to further address this great need for assistance in the community.

“I’m proud to be a part of Renew Detroit by securing $10 million from the Legislature. These dollars will help many Detroiters with much needed repairs, especially seniors,” said Rep. Yancey, who represents the city’s east side and eastern suburbs.

Phase 2 now to include window replacement

In addition to increasing the program to help more Detroiters, the extra funding will allow the roof-replacement program to be expanded to also include new windows. Detroiters who are approved for the repairs will have one major project performed, whichever is deemed most urgent.

Roofs remain the greatest home repair need in neighborhoods across the city. Eighty percent of SEHR requests involve new roofs, and 50 percent of Detroiters who apply for home weatherization grants are turned down because of the condition of the home’s roof. A leaky roof can lead to major internal home deterioration, mold, and poor energy-efficiency and higher utility bills that come with it. 

“I am honored to be a part of the Renew Detroit program which will help bring relief to real people in our community, and I am proud to have worked across the aisle in Lansing to secure the funds in order to make it possible,” said Rep. Whitsett, who represents Detroit’s west side and part of Dearborn. “I’m so glad to work together with Mayor Mike Duggan to bring about real change for individuals across Detroit, and I can’t wait to see the good that Renew Detroit will continue to bring to our city.”

Added Rep. Thanedar, whose district includes north Detroit on both the east and west sides: “Improving equality, access and security for all is among my top priorities, and Renew Detroit will go a long way toward improving the lives of so many of my fellow Detroiters.”

Representing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration at the press conference was Tonya Joy, director of Neighborhood Housing Initiatives for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). MSHDA is the steward of ARPA funds for housing and its board approved the funding of Renew Detroit.

“MSHDA is thrilled to be a part of this $15 million program and know that this grant program will be transformative for homeowners residing in the city of Detroit,” Joy said. “They will be able to make much-needed repairs that they otherwise may not be able to afford. In addition to the short-term benefit and impact on the household itself, we also see this program having a long-term community impact that improves the existing housing stock and increases area home values.”

Eligibility and how to apply for Phase 2

Applications for Phase 2 of Renew Detroit will begin Oct. 1 and close Oct. 31. Those who qualify will have their application review completed by spring 2023, with all work expected to be completed by the end of 2024. The Renew Detroit team will reach out to those who qualified for Phase 1 but were not selected to assist them with applying for Phase 2. Additionally, Renew Detroit staff will be out in the community helping residents apply.

“The Renew Detroit program is designed to begin connecting the dots of available homeowner resources for our residents, even beyond our home repair program,” said Heather Zygmontowicz, chief of Special Housing Programs, who oversees the program. “By requiring the annual HOPE approval and partnering with the Detroit Tax Relief Fund hotline, we ensure property tax bills are as low as possible and provide pathways to back-tax relief. By focusing on roofs and windows, we significantly increase the likelihood of residents gaining access to weatherization upgrades and increasing their efficiency.”

To be eligible, homeowners must meet the following criteria:
  • Age 62 or older or be a homeowner of any age with a disability.
  • Be approved for a 2022 property tax exemption through the Homeowner Property Exemption (HOPE) program, which provides property tax relief to eligible lower-income homeowners. For eligibility requirements and to apply, Detroiters can call 313-244-0274 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday or go to detroitmi.gov/HOPE. Please note, homeowners must apply each year for the HOPE program.
  • Must not have received a home repair grant from the City of $10,000 or more in past 10 years.

After meeting these initial criteria, homeowners will be selected based on a Home Repair Score, which includes length of ownership, number of people in the home, and level of their HOPE tax exemption. The City also prioritized applicants on the existing Senior Emergency Home Repair wait list or who were unable to secure weatherization improvements because of the condition of their roof.

Update on Phase 1

The Renew Detroit program was launched last September and funded by $30 million from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with the goal of replacing 1,000 roofs for lower-income seniors and disabled Detroiters. So far, 1,100 homeowners have been conditionally selected, and the team is in the process of assessing those homes for final approval for a roof replacement. Final approvals, which are confirmed after a successful assessment of the home, will start hitting mailboxes next week. This week, the Detroit City Council approved $2.9 million in roof-replacement contracts for the first 200 homes, and the contractors are expected to begin this September.

Help for those who don’t qualify for Renew Detroit

For those Detroit residents who need home repairs but are not old enough or do not have a disability, the City offers the Detroit 0% Interest Home Repair Loan Program. This program provides loans to Detroit homeowners of $5,000 to $25,000 to complete home repairs and resolve health and safety issues. Homeowners have 10 years to pay back the loans, which are provided at 0% interest – meaning homeowners pay back only what they borrow. The program is a City-led partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) launched in March 2015. This public-private commitment is between LISC, the City’s Housing and Revitalization Department, Bank of America and the Rocket Community Fund.  To apply, go to www.detroithomeloans.org.