New Report Outlines Viable Solutions For Single-Family Housing Redevelopment, Essential for an Equitable Detroit

December 14, 2020

DETROIT – A new report entitled “Rebuilding Home” was released today by Detroit Future City (DFC) and Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), which gives an overview of achievable approaches and common challenges associated with single-family redevelopment across Detroit’s community development sector.

“Rebuilding Home” shows that many Detroit vacant single-family homes can and should be redeveloped to preserve the integrity of Detroit neighborhoods.  The report covers comprehensive data and first-hand interviews with community development leaders and executive directors of 10 organizations with single-family rehabilitation experience in Detroit neighborhoods. Combined, these organizations have rehabilitated over 500 homes, with their work spanning across 16 neighborhoods.

Because Detroit has a 20 percent higher proportion of single-family homes than most cities, “Rebuilding Home” emphasizes that maintaining Detroit’s housing infrastructure will depend primarily on individual homeowners, not major developers who typically focus on multi-family housing.

“The ‘Rebuilding Home’ report suggests giving a larger consideration to restructuring existing single-family homes in Detroit neighborhoods,” said Kimberly Faison, DFC Director of Community & Economic Development. “It’s a huge undertaking—and it’s more than just repairing one or two houses in a neighborhood. Housing renovation should be part of an integrated Detroit neighborhood strategy that includes greater and safer neighborhood stability, appearance and community cohesion.”

While there are many approaches to single-family home renovation, the report outlines several commonalities useful to any organization wishing to launch or support a single-family renovation and resale program. Among the most critical commonalities is the need to plan for all expected and unexpected costs since the total development costs for Detroit renovation projects almost always exceeded completed homes’ market value. The report also finds it is challenging to complete high-quality, affordable housing without financial subsidy.

“The data, interviews and lessons found in ‘Rebuilding Home’ prove that single-family housing is at the forefront of designing a more equitable Detroit,” says Melinda Clemons, vice president and Detroit market leader, Enterprise. “But for these projects’ results to be safe, affordable and thriving, we now need to ignite more people and organizations who can provide financial and systemic support to these incredible developers who are prioritizing a comprehensive Detroit neighborhood revitalization.”

In June 2020, the Detroit Neighborhood Housing Compact (The Compact) released a report detailing the components needed to support the acquisition, renovation, and resale of vacant single-family homes by community development organizations (CDOs). It also included a pilot project proposal intended to deepen relationships between CDOs and the City as well as build capacity within the community development and housing rehabilitation sectors.

“Rebuilding Home” first presents three detailed case studies, which describe rehab models taken to scale by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation and Bridging Communities, Inc. These organizations have comprehensive home renovation and resale experience and have successfully integrated home renovation with broader neighborhood revitalization programs.

Further, the report contains single-page briefs highlighting the lessons learned from projects completed since 2015 by other nonprofit and for-profit entities. These community-oriented entities are Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation, Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, Develop Detroit and Mona Lisa Development. Larger organizations examined are Century Partners for its innovative financing strategy and the Detroit Land Bank Authority for redeveloping a portion of its inventory for the Rehabbed & Ready Program. Southwest Housing Solutions, an affordable housing nonprofit, also shared cost data from its Real Estate Owned rehab program.

This research was informed by The Compact, a forum for over 80 public, private and nonprofit stakeholders that collaborate on identifying challenges and solutions for the single-family home market in Detroit.

The “Rebuilding Home” report is available online at www.detroitfuturecity.com.