Jefferson-Chalmers
A new resource hub in Jefferson-Chalmers can help Detroiters avoid foreclosure, flood-proof their homes and tap into crucial home repair programs. (Nushrat Rahman)

More than 4,000 homes in and around Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood saw basements flooded during last year’s summer downpour that swept through metro Detroit.

Meanwhile, about 100 residents still don’t have functioning furnaces and are living without heat this winter.

That’s according to Jefferson East Inc., a community organization serving the city’s East Jefferson corridor.

Through a $250,000 grant from the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation, the nonprofit is looking to help Detroiters in hard-hit areas around Jefferson Chalmers make crucial furnace repairs and link residents to resources.

“You basically have your most vulnerable citizens, your elderly, those with underlying health issues dealing with housing that is not healthy and safe,” said Josh Elling, CEO of Jefferson East Inc. “And so we’ve got to get the heat back on, we’ve got to get the basement sanitized, and we’ve got to find ways to make these homes more resilient to … future flooding events.”

The nonprofit, with the help of other organizations, identified 4,000 homes along East Jefferson affected by basement flooding from sewer backups or surface area flooding. About 160 individuals needed furnace repairs. Jefferson East Inc. worked through the summer to get hot water tanks and furnaces replaced, Elling said.

Still, there are many residents without heat.

“Folks are having to rely on space heaters, using ovens to heat their houses, and so we’re working as fast as we can and we’re finding new people every day that still need furnace help,” Elling said.

Lee Padgett, the owner of Busted Bra Shop at the corner of Jefferson and Chalmers, uses a mop to try and dry up the water that flooded her shop overnight on Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Detroit. Heavy rains in metro Detroit caused massive flooding in homes, streets, and freeways. This would have normally been their busiest day of the week. (Kelly Jordan, Detroit Free Press)

A deluge of rain hit metro Detroit in late June, leaving cars stranded in flooded freeways and damaging homes and businesses. The event was deemed a major disaster by President Joe Biden, unlocking federal funding for residents of Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

But not everyone was able to tap into that assistance, Elling said.

The grant from the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation is expected to help repair 35 furnaces, he said, and is a “great first start.”

“We think the total cost to replace everyone’s furnaces, that are needed, is about $1.6 million,” he estimated.

For more information about flooding and housing support, contact Jefferson East Inc.’s Neighborhood Resource Hub at 313-314-6415.

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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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been with out heat nor hot water and also pregnant! It’s molding everywhere i can’t keep living like this !

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