Detroit nonprofits to join forces to increase services for homeowners

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The Detroit Housing Network will provide resources for homeowners and later add services for renters and home buyers. (BridgeDetroit file photo)

A group of six Detroit-based housing nonprofits are coming together to create the Detroit Housing Network, an effort to boost housing stability and affordable home ownership in the city. 

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The work, announced Thursday, is backed by a $2.2 million dollar investment from the City of Detroit and Rocket Community Fund. The aim is to grow resources for homeowners. Services will include: mortgage and financial counseling, property tax foreclosure prevention, home repair help, utility assistance  and assistance for households with low-incomes who want to become homeowners. 

Residents will be able to apply for help through an online portal at detroithousingnetwork.org. The launch date for online enrollment has not been determined. Meanwhile, Detroiters can still contact the participating nonprofits to reach a housing or financial counselor.  

The six organizations part of the Detroit Housing Network include: Bridging Communities, Central Detroit Christian CDC, Jefferson East Inc., Matrix Human Services, U SNAP BAC and Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. Later this year, the network is expected to grow to include more nonprofit partners. 

The Detroit Housing Network will begin with resources for homeowners and will later add services for renters and home buyers, according to its website. Renters will be able to get help with utilities, tenant and landlord counseling, and eviction counseling; and buyers can access credit and financial assistance and counseling.

“A big challenge that residents face in Detroit, is that resources to help folks stay in their homes or their apartments is very fragmented and so residents have to run around to a lot of different sources,” said Josh Elling, CEO of Jefferson East, Inc.

The Detroit Housing Network is going to pull together some of the city’s leading housing agencies to help residents access a range of housing help, he said. Elling estimates that with the investment, Jefferson East, Inc. can double the number of people it helps with housing support to about 1,100 homeowners or renters.

Phyllis Edwards, executive director of Bridging Communities, said the network is a simplified way of providing services and the dollars can help community organizations “build capacity to continue work and grow.”

“Detroit’s nonprofit housing organizations have been on the front lines of the housing crisis and have been stretched thin to keep Detroiters in their homes. These resources will help sustain and improve access to this vital service,” said Julie Schneider, acting director of the Housing & Revitalization Department, in a news release. 

The Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Companies, has invested more than $750,000 into the Detroit Housing Network. The investment is part of a decade long $500 million commitment billionaire couple Dan and Jennifer Gilbert announced in March. The first $15 million is being directed toward an effort to eliminate property tax debt for as many as 20,000 Detroit homeowners.

The $2.2 million investment announced Thursday also includes $1.5 million in Community Development Block Grants, through the CARES Act, according to the City of Detroit. 

CHN Housing Partners — an affordable housing developer, housing service provider and residential mortgage lender based in Ohio —  is administering the investment from the Rocket Community Fund and CARES Act dollars. The organization works with utility companies, financial institutions, and public agencies, to improve housing conditions for people with low incomes, people who are disabled and people who are homeless in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. 

CHN Housing Partners will work with the Detroit Housing Network’s nonprofits to improve how services are delivered through marketing and technology support. CHN Housing Partners is among the partners in a public-private effort announced last March to preserve 10,000 affordable housing units in Detroit with federal tax credits.

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