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Duggan: Home buy back program keeping people in Detroit neighborhoods

Mayor Mike Duggan handing Kiya Snapp the deed to her house after she completed the occupied buy back program
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Mayor Mike Duggan handing Kiya Snapp the deed to her house after she completed the occupied buy back program,

Eighty Detroit families are regaining ownership of their homes, after nearly losing them to foreclosure.

This is the first group of families to complete the Detroit Land Bank’s “occupied buy back” program that sells Land Bank-owned homes to people rather than kick them out.

The program is open to people who:

·      Were the last owner -- or is a family member of the last owner -- on record before the Land Bank gained control

·      Were renting the property when it was foreclosed

·      Were paying for utilities in the property for at least a year

·      Can show proof of significant improvements to the property

Kiya Snapp got the deed to her home today. The house had been in her family since the 1970s.

“This house had been my grandparents when I was growing up and when the city went and had ups and downs, so did things with the house,” Snapp said.

Snapp says if not for this program, she would’ve lost the house.

“I’m just glad that I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Is it foreclosed or are we going to be kicked out. Now I just have some peace of mind,” she said.

Mayor Mike Duggan introduced the program in 2015. The first group of families started the process last year.

One of the reasons he helped start the program was to address the issues tax foreclosure had on neighborhoods.

"We had to do something about all these people who were otherwise going to leave the city. Some neighborhoods were already being emptied out by foreclosures," Duggan said.

He says the program will continue taking applicants until the Land Bank has no more foreclosed homes.

“We expect to have a thousand over the next year or so that end up in a foreclosed house, but they never had to move out, they ended up owning it,” Duggan said.

Duggan also took the time to address the Land Bank's ongoing legal issues.

"It's no secret that the Land Bank hasn't done everything right, but this program is a good sign that [it] is turning things around," he said.

City officials say there will be 90 more families graduating from this program in August.

The Land Bank owns about 25,000 houses and it estimates 4,500 of those have people living in them.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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