It has been three months to the date since we received the final deeds for the properties purchase from our participation in what was the largest tax foreclosure auction in the history of our country. Over 40,000 homes were foreclosed on in Detroit. We discovered that nearly 8,000 homes had families living in them. Through the efforts of the Detroit Peoples' Platform, the Storehouse of Hope Client's Choice Food Pantry and a host of really faith-filled partners, supporters and friends, we launch an all out effort to "save" some of those families from displacement.
The campaign “Keep Our Homes Detroit” was launch as a Go Fund Me effort which lasted just eight days short days. The effort brought out 321 supporters from all over the world and raised over $108,000. Prior to this campaign, we had received support from local partners and had raised $40,000 which enabled us to purchase one additional property, bringing our total to 15 properties purchased to.
But today, we want to report on our progress. Where are we after three months? And believe me, we have been busy. Our vision was to establish the first Community Land Trust in Detroit (CLT’s as they are called).
Once clear ownership was in our hands, we wanted to contact the families and talk to them about our "vision". Really, the notion of a CLT is foreign to us. We all come from years of understanding tradition home ownership.
We invited each family to attend the Annual Dinner for the Storehouse of Hope which was held on November 6th. But only a few of the families showed up. As of today, four families have not responded to our efforts to contact them. It is likely that those families have move out of the properties or "self-evicted" themselves. Without them coming forward, we will have to follow the normal procedure to get possession of those properties. One elderly gentleman had already moved into a senior community. So we have five properties that as of now are not receiving the benefits of the community land trust.
The Board of Directors of the Storehouse of Hope, at their Annual Dinner Meeting voted to create the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust (SOHCLT). The Board also hired a "Stewardship Administrator" to assist the families and begin the process of helping them understand CLT living.
The “stewardship” element is what creates community. It’s what makes a CLT different from just selling a house and walking away or from simply being a landlord collecting rent.
Well here’s where the work gets started. Each house had to be assessed and intake information had to be gathered. Many of the families were in houses without heat, water and in some cases, no other utilities. As of this writing we have accessed and made essential repairs in five house, four of which had to have new furnaces and extensive plumbing. Remember that housing stock in Detroit, as in most cities, is pre/post World War II.
Essential repairs, are just that. Getting heat and water to the properties. A couple of them have had break-ins and so have boarded doors in what they hoped was a secure manner. Most of those “secure” manners would have trapped them inside and in case of emergency, they would not have been able to escape. No cosmetic repairs have been done, that is, we have not updated kitchens or added bathrooms, the repairs are just to get necessaries back. We had a family, a mother and young daughter sleeping in their car with the engine running to keep warm.
It has cost an average of $4,500 per house and we still have five houses to go. Add to this, we are still facing what might be the conditions of the five house that we have not gained access to as yet.
Thanks to the generous donations of Linda Campbell and Simeon Maycock (Maycock Construction Services), we have received some much needed furniture for the families. Doesn't that express what community is all about? We had families in need of beds and living room furniture, so we put out a call and got.
Certainly, this Blog leaves you with more question, and for us as well. This is a" learn as you go effort". While we can gather information from other CLT's around the country, our CLT is different. We are attempting to put "square pegs in round holes". Folks who had never heard about Community Land Trust woke up one morning and found that they were now living in a CLT home. We can say that many of them get it. And all of them are grateful that someone else is coming alongside to shoulder things that were overwhelming to them. They also see the need to protect our future. They certainly feel the displacement that is occurring in our city.
The months ahead will have challenges, but together we shall overcome.
“And we will build them as at the first.”