Abandoned to vibrant: How Building Detroit Futures changes neighborhoods

Posted at 6:32 AM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 09:46:04-04

Abandoned homes in historic Detroit neighborhoods are getting new life.

Homes that had become eyesores are being rehabbed through a partnership called “Building Detroit Futures.”

It’s led to new life for the homes, and the people buying them. The prices are even aimed to help low to moderate income families.

Lina Cammon, the first person to move back into one of the rehabbed homes, told 7 Action News that she couldn’t believe the idea of living in the Bagley neighborhood in northwest Detroit.

Cammon left the neighborhood in the late 1970s, but said her heart never really left the area. Cammon moved around the country, but when she returned to Detroit and moved into a senior living center she didn’t feel “at home.”

“I missed the grass,” said Cammon. “I missed putting out flowers. I really just miss being free to go and do as I please in my own place.”

When she set her eyes on the house she now calls “home,” she didn’t think it was possible. She laughed as she recalled telling her realtor to drive past it as quickly as possible because she didn’t think she could afford it. After looking at dozens of homes she decided to look at the 4-bedroom home on Ohio Street.

Thanks to a partnership that teams up Southwest Solutions, the AFL-CIO Housing Investment trust, the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council and the City of Detroit, she now is settled into her home.

“There were a few houses, that are obviously vacant, that had kind of become an eyesore in the neighbor,” said Laltsha Cunningham, the project manager. “We wanted to change the around and make them into homes that people want to live in again.”

Cunningham said that the first phase of their project will oversee 17 abandoned or vacant homes being rehabbed. They’re already building a list of prospective buyers who want to be part of the Building Detroit Futures partnership.

Building Detroit Futures is able to sell the rehabbed homes at a fraction of the price thanks to the process. The homes that are involved in the program have been acquired from the Detroit Land Bank. The homes are rehabbed using Detroit residents that have signed up for a union pre-apprenticeship training program. It allows for on-the-job training while completing the projects at a lower cost.

Southwest Solutions works with realtors to make the homes and help with mortgage needs of would-be home buyers. Those who want help, such as homebuyer education workshops, can get that help free of charge too.

“Doing a lot of loans you sometimes get caught in things just becoming numbers,” explained Cunningham. “We want to have programs where people just don’t feel like numbers, but they feel like they’re cared about.”

Cammon said she feels like she’s part of the resurgence of her neighborhood, and is excited to see more new neighbors join her.

She’s already seeing familiar faces of former students from her first stint as a Detroit Public Schools teacher 30 to 40 years ago. Now she’s working for the school system again, she even has began teaching dance two days a week for young girls at Mackenzie.

If you’d like to learn more about the Building Detroit Futures program, and find out whether you may qualify you can visit the group’s website: