Housing in Detroit’s East Village. (BridgeDetroit file photo)

Landlords who own duplexes in Detroit may be eligible for a new grant to repair their properties.

This story also appeared in Detroit Free Press

The City of Detroit and housing developer CHN Housing Partners this week announced a new program for small-scale property owners of duplexes to get up to $15,000 per unit and as much as $45,000 for each structure. Eligible landlords of other types of rentals can get rebates for bringing properties up to code.

Dubbed the Detroit Duplex Repair Program, the funds are intended to help landlords make renovations and bring homes into compliance. The $2.3 million program is funded by Detroit’s share of American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

“By repairing and encouraging the registration of Detroit’s affordable rental units, we are supporting landlords, creating safe and healthy homes in the short term, and ensuring access to affordable homes in the years to come,” said Kevin Nowak, president and CEO of CHN Housing Partners, in a news release.

Landlords can apply in two ways:

  • Property owners of duplexes, two-floor flats or triplexes can get grants to make repairs that would lead to a certificate of compliance from the City of Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED), which indicates a property is up to code. The completed units must be available for households with incomes up to 60% of the area median income — a regional measurement that translates to $51,180 for a family of three — for five years. The owners must also be Detroit residents. The dollars are expected to aid nearly 150 rental units.
  • Property owners with any Detroit property, including single family and multi-family homes, who obtain a certificate of compliance on or after Nov. 1 are eligible to receive a $750 rebate. Landlords can get rebates for as many as 10 units, or $7,500.

Under the City of Detroit’s rental ordinance, landlords must keep their properties safe by registering them, passing inspections, getting a lead clearance and paying any outstanding fees or blight violation tickets. These steps lead to a certificate of compliance. 

Though it’s hard to say how many rentals do not have certificates of compliance, one University of Michigan study found that, as of March 2022, 6% of Detroit’s 87,000 rental properties were up to code. 

There are more than 42,000 landlords — 87% of whom own one or two properties — but most are not registered within Detroit’s formal rental system, according to a report last year by the think tank Detroit Future City

For more information about the Detroit Duplex Repair Program and to fill out an eligibility form by Nov. 30, go to chnhousingpartners.org/Detroit/duplexrepair/. If a landlord is deemed eligible after filling out the form, they will receive an email 10 to 15 business days after Nov. 30 to complete an application. 

Nushrat Rahman covers issues related to economic mobility for the Detroit Free Press and BridgeDetroit as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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