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Detroit program makes 100 more homeowners in city

Kendric Watts holds the deed to her home in Detroit.
City of Detroit
City of Detroit
Kendric Watts holds the deed to her home in Detroit.

On Tuesday, Detroit resident Pratiss Talton got the deed to the house he grew up in.

His father bought that home in the 1970s. But Tallton says several years ago, his mom lost ownership due to back-owed taxes.

“And to lose it, you know, was a hurting feeling. And I wanted it back," Tallton said. "When you lose something that you can have for a long time, it hurts to lose it and you try to get it back. And I think that's what it was with me. I was determined to get it back,” Tallton said.

Now, after years of wanting to own this home, Tallton has the deed.

He was part of the Detroit Land Bank Authority’s Buy Back program, where 135 Detroiters became the latest cohort of homeowners on Tuesday.

The program is meant to provide a pathway to homeownership for people who lost their homes to foreclosure but never left, people who were victims of housing fraud or who have another significant connection to their house.

Since 2016, 1,119 people have completed the program, which includes a year of what it describes as “homebuyer counseling courses.” The program requires a $1,000 payment and a commitment to paying the summer tax bill.

Kendric Watts is another of the 135 people that became homeowners today.

“This just was a house that we was raised in all my life. I was 7 years old going in the house. And I'm 63 now. So I've been in I was going in that house for a lot of years. I was practically raised in that house,” she said.

Now, Watts owns the house and plans to renovate floors and plumbing.

In a press release, Land Bank CEO Tammy Daniels said there are still about 1,800 Land Bank-owned houses in the city with people living in them. “We need them to come forward and work with us to see if they qualify for Buy Back or if we can connect them with the city’s Housing and Revitalization Department for wrap-around support services that DLBA isn’t equipped to provide,” she said in the release.

Homeownership for many of these residents will come with necessary renovations like a new roof and a leaky foundation that Talton is working on fixing.

The day is bittersweet, he said — his mother, the last owner of the home before the Land Bank acquired it, died last month, just weeks shy of seeing her son get the deed to their family home.

Watts, Talton, and other new homeowners Emoni Davey and Gerald Ross, all said it would have been significantly harder, or even impossible, for them to become homeowners, especially of these homes, without the Land Bank Authority’s assistance.

Land Bank officials say there are 48 participants enrolled in the Buy Back program and working to get their deeds next summer. Anyone living in a land bank-owned home is encouraged to reach out and see if they're eligible for the Buy Back by emailing buyback@detroitlandbank.org or calling 313-974-6869.

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