In 2021, Loretta Powell’s home basement flooded, destroying her belongings and causing considerable damage. Her basement needed critical repairs so it wouldn’t happen again. While Loretta was able to get some assistance through DTE’s Energy Efficiency Assistance (EEA) program, which replaced her furnace and hot water heater, flooding prevention was not within the scope of the DTE program.
A member of Detroit’s Good Stock Community since 1967, Ms. Powell is active in her neighborhood, and had previously gone door to door to connect residents with resources that prevent property tax foreclosure. She knew from that experience that she was not alone in needing home repairs. “I’ve visited homes with stairs that were unsafe and seen first-hand how desperately needed home repair is in Detroit,” she said.
There are thousands of stories like Ms. Powell’s in Detroit – longtime residents whose homes are in dire need of critical repairs and, without support, might ultimately decide to leave the city.
“After we launched the Detroit Tax Relief Fund to prevent displacement from tax foreclosure, we stayed in touch with the families who received that support, “said Laura Grannemann, Executive Director of the Gilbert Family Foundation. “We continue to learn from them and be guided by their needs. One topic that has come up more than any in these conversations is the need for home repair resources.”
That’s why the Gilbert Family Foundation, ProMedica and DTE Energy launched the Detroit Home Repair Fund last year, a $20M program that provides low-income homeowners with critical home repairs. When the Detroit Home Repair Program launched, the response was overwhelming. “There were people that were calling multiple times. Some people had multiple phones open, because the need is so urgent,” said Darnell Adams, Director of Detroit Community Initiatives for the Gilbert Family Foundation. “It shows that there is a significant need for more resources in this space for home repair. Perhaps the existing resources are hard to access for many Detroiters.”
Luckily for Ms. Powell, DTE’s EEA program provides the foundation for the Detroit Home Repair Fund – once a resident qualifies for that program, they can request an assessment to see if their home qualifies for DHRF. Her primary contact was the Eastside Community Network, who arranged the work with a local contractor. In addition to fixing the extensive damage to her basement caused by flooding, Ms. Powell had her bathroom renovated for safety, among other repairs.
In the video above, Ms. Powell speaks about the repairs alongside Adams, who visited her home, and David Becker from DTE. Check it out to learn more about the importance of this program and how we’re continuing to support Detroiters with the resources they need to thrive.