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Project aims to create affordable tiny neighborhoods in Detroit

Grand Seven Detroit aims to create affordable housing

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DETROIT – Rebuilding Detroit's neighborhoods has been a daunting challenge, but one success story was born through a grassroots effort that's starting to bloom.

When Virgil and Christina Wilson moved to the area of Seven Mile Road and Grand River Avenue on Detroit's west side, they didn't think they could last.

But today, there's a college sophomore shooting hoops feet from their door. The ground is being softened for a neighborhood park to be built Thursday, and there are new neighbors.

A project called Grand Seven Detroit is the brainchild of Robert King, the pastor of Harvest Christian Church. He has managed to get $650,000 in federal grant money to buy dilapidated houses in declining neighborhoods, refurbish them and turn them into low-income rentals.

Sometimes he works with squatters, turning them into responsible renters. They have to be low-income, treat the properties as their own, pay bills, keep up with rent payments -- which are as low as $400 per month -- and follow a path that leads to responsible home ownership.

In 15 years, when the conditions of the grant expire, the church will be able to offer the homes for sale.

The church has acquired 35 properties throughout Detroit. Eleven of them already house families while others are being rehabbed.


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