DETROIT – Dan Gilbert made an announcement Thursday that will directly impact Detroit for years to come -- A grand total of $500 million will be invested in the city of Detroit and its residents over the next 10 years, on behalf of a joint initiative by the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rocket Community Fund.
The funds will start with help for homeowners with overdue property taxes.
Over the past decade, the city of Detroit, Wayne County and Gilbert have attacked the property tax foreclosure problem, but it remains a problem for roughly 20,000 Detroiters who find themselves in an endless circle of low income, high bills and scrambling to make ends meet.
Gilbert said it has to stop in order for Metro Detroit to move forward.
“No person should have to make the decision of the choice between keeping them home of feeding their family,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, are pledging half of a billion dollars through the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rocket Community Fund to make a real impact on the problems people face.
The first effort will put $15 million into paying back back property taxes that can often lead to grinding generational poverty.
“We’d rather do deep on a handful of important and critical issues and have major impact on them than just spreading money out like Santa Claus,” Gilbert said.
This is the start of targeting giving in order to have Detroiters stop looking backward financially and move forward, maintaining and improving their homes.
Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said that with this investment, foreclosures are no longer the big problem.
“The stress is you have people with bills from four, five or six years ago hanging over their heads, making them insecure in their life every day,” Duggan said. “What the Gilberts have done is give them a road to financial security.”
The fund will be operated by the local nonprofit Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, who already works to help Detroit-area residents with home-related payments through property tax assistance programs and related services. To find out if you qualify, click here.
This tax debt retirement money will inevitably end up with the city and county, but Wayne County executive Warren Evans said there’s a lot more at stake here.
“I’d much rather see property taxes paid, interest and penalties waived, fees waived, fees removed and people have the ability to pay their taxes,” Evans said. “That’s going to build a stronger Wayne County.”
Gilbert estimates $15 million will solve the taxes due, leaving $485 million to go after other problems. He said he hasn’t decided where the money will go next and that he’s focusing on one problem at a time.
To learn more about the organizations’ investment, visit the Gilbert Family Foundation’s website here.