This episode originally aired on Nov. 1, 2022. It was updated and re-aired on September 5, 2023.

This Week on American Black Journal:

Detroit’s home repair crisis: Homeowners face high costs, eligibility barriers to fix homes

Detroit residents have spoken. After City officials and community groups held 65 public meetings in 2022 and posted an online survey seeking residents’ input about how the city should use its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Detroiters say their top priority is home repair. According to the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Community Study (DMACS), an estimated 37,630 Detroit homes need major repairs. For 13% of those households, the level of repair has reached hazardous conditions. 

In partnership with “American Black Journal,” BridgeDetroit reporter Malachi Barrett went around the community to talk with Detroit residents about the difficulty of getting major problems fixed at their homes. They talk about the cost-prohibitive barriers they face, like banks turning residents down for loans, and the eligibility requirements for Detroit’s home repair program, Renew Detroit. Plus, Barrett learns more about the impact that unmet home repairs have on the city’s neighborhoods.

Detroit’s home repair crisis: The impact of disinvestment in Detroit’s neighborhoods

After years of disinvestment in Detroit’s neighborhoods and housing stock, city officials are hoping a new home repair program can begin to reshape the narrative and re-invest in thousands of homes across the city. Renew Detroit, a citywide program for homeowners, launched in September 2021 with $30 million appropriated to help repair roughly 1,500 homes for eligible senior and disabled homeowners. 

In July 2022, city officials added an additional $15 million in state funding to the program, though that only scratches the surface. A University of Michigan Poverty Solution study estimates that Detroit needs nearly $2-$4 billion for home repairs across the city. 

Looking at this issue and the need for systemic solutions, “American Black Journal” host Stephen Henderson hosts a roundtable discussion with the City of Detroit’s Chief of Special Housing Programs Heather Zygmontowicz, Eastside Community Network President & CEO Donna Givens Davidson, and BridgeDetroit reporter Malachi Barrett — who heard from Detroit residents — to explore the impact home repair needs are having on residents and neighborhoods. They talk more about the city’s home repair program and the issues that have led to homes falling into disrepair, as well as the negative impact of property tax overassessments and the effect on property values and generational wealth. 

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.