Mayor joins 70th family to get keys to new home as part of Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program
- City created innovative program to offer relocation option to families affected by the Gordie Howe Bridge Project
- Innovative Home Swap program funded through community benefits agreement with Canadian government
- Participating residents exchange home in Delray neighborhood for newly renovated Land Bank home in another neighborhood at no cost to homeowner
Mayor Duggan and city housing officials today joined with members of the Barajas family of southwest Detroit as they became the 70th family to officially take trade in their former home for a newly renovated Detroit Land Bank home through the City’s Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program.
The Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program was created in 2017 for residents directly impacted by the construction of the new Gordie Howe International Bridge to give them the option to exchange their current home for one in another neighborhood at no cost. The program is available to homeowners in the Delray area who want to relocate but were not offered a buyout from the State.
Before signing up for the voluntary program, Lidia and Jorge Barajas had lived in their Delray neighborhood for the past 14 years. In 2019, the couple initially declined the opportunity to trade in their home for a newly renovated one in another neighborhood. But then they heard positive feedback from their niece and another friend, both of whom did go through the program, and re-enrolled in the program in 2021.
The Barajases had a unique challenge, however: They have a large family and needed a larger than average home for the program. They have five children and Lidia’s mother also lives with them. Fortunately, the Home Swap program also includes an option for higher occupancy homes for families that need at least four bedrooms. They now will live in their new three-story home, which sits along a tidy stretch of Livernois between W. Vernor and I-75.
“There were a lot of families that didn’t get buyouts from the state because the state didn’t need their land, but they are still dealing with the impact of the new bridge,” said Mayor Duggan. “We created the Bridging Neighborhoods program to help take care of homeowners like the Barajas family who wanted to leave their neighborhood, but not their city.”
The Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program was created in 2017 through a negotiated $32 million community benefits agreement between the city, residents, and the Canadian government, which is paying for construction of the new bridge. The agreement also included $10 million for skilled trades training for Detroiters.
All but two of the now 70 homes renovated by the Bridging Neighborhoods Home Swap program were purchased for $1 from the stock of properties owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. “The land bank is proud to partner with the City on such an innovative program that helps the City meet its goals while empowering Detroiters with choice in where and how they live," said Tammy Daniels, CEO, Detroit Land Bank Authority. "We welcome any opportunity to contribute our property to high-quality rehabs that create accessible, stable housing solutions for Detroit families.”
The city completed its first successful home swap in 2018 and has been completing about 15 per year since.
"To be able to meet the needs of families who didn't get bought out, but decided they wanted to relocate is a great feeling,” said Bridging Neighborhoods Director Rico Razo. “Our team works with Home Swap families every step of the way because this is a big decision, and we want them to be happy about their decision to relocate. 70 Delray families are now living in their fully renovated homes all over the city of Detroit, but we also have several hundred families who lived next to, or around, these once vacant eyesores and they now have new neighbors. It's a win for our families and neighborhoods they are moving to."
In addition to the home swap program, a portion of the Bridging Neighborhoods budget also paid for nearly 175 homes along the north I-75 service drive to receive new insulating windows and new heating and cooling systems to protect them from the noise and other environmental impacts of the new bridge traffic. That program wrapped up last year.