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First round of Detroit families in path of new international bridge set to swap homes

Mar 30, 2018

At least four Detroit families are set to be relocated to new homes in the city as part of the first round of the city’s home swap program.

The program was established for some homeowners in southwest Detroit’s Delray neighborhood, which will be home to the new Gordie Howe International Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The home swap program is one component of a larger, $45 million community benefits package the city negotiated on behalf of Delray residents last summer. It serves residents whose homes were not bought out through eminent domain as part of the bridge project, but who wish to be relocated to other parts of the city.

Four families were “matched” with new homes as part of a process that ended this week, says Charity Dean, director of the city’s Bridging Neighborhoods program. Twelve families participated in the first-round match process.

Dean says that followed a months-long effort of reaching out to Delray homeowners, guiding them through the enrollment process and connecting them with potential new homes that are owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. The ten homes available in the first round are located in the Warrendale, MorningSide, and southwest Detroit neighborhoods.

For the families matched with new homes, the process should move forward quickly. “Starting next week, we will start having folks come in for a pre-closing, is what we call it. They’ll sign a swap agreement saying ‘Yep, I want to swap my house for this house,’” Dean said.

After that, Dean says the program will work to bring contractors on board to fix up the new homes. There is $32.6 million available in a Building Neighborhoods Fund, which will also cover environmental mitigation and home upgrades for residents who choose to remain in Delray.

Dean says the program is currently working with 55 families who want to swap their Delray homes for another property in the city. A second match process is scheduled for May, and Dean says the program will likely hold another enrollment period later this year.

Dean admits the program is working out kinks as it unfolds, but says she’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the results thus far.

“There’s no template for us. There’s no blueprint. We’re really trying to do something that hasn’t been done,” she said. “So with that comes a little bit of experimenting and just asking, ‘What do people want?’

“There’s so many factors. Every month, every week, we’re learning things.”

The final home swap deals will need Detroit City Council approval.