Detroit group working to break down barriers to homeownership through land trusts
DETROIT (WXYZ) — A local organization is finding solutions to Detroit’s housing crisis.
According to a University of Michigan study, only about one in five Detroit residents who received homebuying training from agencies certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development were able to purchase a home. Bad credit has been cited as one of the biggest barriers to home ownership.
This is where Dream of Detroit comes in. The organization works to break down these barriers through a “land trust” model.
“The trust retains ownership of the property and leases it for a 99-year lease. They own their home, they can make whatever upgrades they want to it,” said Mark Crain, executive director of Dream of Detroit. “They just agree, when it’s time to sell, to cap the profit they can make.”
Crain’s grandfather opened the first black-owned locksmith shop in the city, just minutes from where he rehabs homes.
The land trust is not owned by Dream of Detroit. It is a grassroots entity according to Crain, with a board of directors made up of residents and business owners.
“We live in the 48238 zip code, which has had the slowest rebound in home values,” Crain said. values.”
Dawud Clark will soon benefit from the work of Dream of Detroit. He’s an ex-con who suffered years of rejection because of bad credit and a criminal history.
“I ended up living in a hotel for a while,” Clark said.
Eventually he met Crain, who helped him move into a halfway house for formerly incarcerated men. The program is known as Project Homecoming. Clark is now the manager.
He is happy about his future and the future of this neighborhood
“We’re going to have families here, we’re going to have grocery stores here, a restaurant, you know that’s exciting,” Clark said.
Dream of Detroit acquired property off Woodrow Wilson at the Wayne County tax auction. Crain says they were willing to pay around $32,000, which they thought the land was worth, but it ended up bringing in $72,000.
They were able to find the difference in just 48 hours, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign.
“We can’t take this job too slow. The vultures are here. (I) hate to use a dirty word, but the speculators here are the people who bid way too much for the property they plan to sit on for 20 years have come,” Crain said.
The land will house Dream of Detroit’s first-ever commercial property.
“We think we can bring business back to Woodrow Wilson Street and really align it again and make it a thriving commercial district,” Crain said. “We think we can make the residents of this neighborhood feel fully empowered in a way that they didn’t when the city said this neighborhood needs to be a good size.”
Work on Clark’s house will begin in about three months. He is also building a foundation in his personal life. He just got engaged.
Crain says the land trust model ensures the neighborhood remains affordable and hopefully discourages gentrification.
“We’re also talking about making sure that we paint a picture of the future of this neighborhood, that it’s always inclusive for the people who supported it through its toughest times,” Crain said.
Crain says seven out of 10 people in land trust programs are first-time homeowners. In total, Dream of Detroit has rehabilitated 12 homes with hopefully many more to come.