Local organizations to invest $500M into Detroit, eliminate homeowner property tax debt for thousands

Gilbert Family Foundation, Rocket Community Fund to prioritize housing, equity needs in Detroit

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.

DETROIT – 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.

Leaders of the organizations announced Thursday their philanthropic investment of $500 million in the city of Detroit -- $350 million from the Gilbert Family Foundation and $150 million from the Rocket Community Fund -- that will focus on promoting economic stability for the city and its residents. One major announcement: Part of the investment will eliminate property tax debt owed by tens of thousands of low-income Detroit homeowners.

According to officials, an initial investment of $15 million from the Gilbert Family Foundation will be used to establish the Detroit Tax Relief Fund. Through the fund, an estimated 20,000 low-income homeowners in Detroit will have their property tax debt completely wiped away. The foundation says the move will preserve $400 million of wealth and home equity in Detroit.

“Everyone deserves to achieve the American dream of homeownership, and that includes the ability to sustainably and permanently enjoy the home you make for yourself, your family and your loved ones,” Dan Gilbert said. “The greatest resource of any community is its people, and we are honored to be able to invest in removing this tax burden, which will build a stronger foundation for Detroit families to thrive.”

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. More information about the fund and who will specifically benefit has not yet been announced, but individuals can see if they qualify for the city’s Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program online here.

Officials say that nearly 90% of Detroit homeowners behind on their property taxes likely qualified for tax assistance in 2019, but didn’t know the program existed.

Aside from the Detroit Tax Relief Fund, the foundation says that invested funds will also go toward “community priorities” that may include “digital equity, home repair needs, employment opportunities and other areas,” the announcement reads Thursday. The foundation also intends to keep up with participants of the Detroit Tax Relief Fund in an effort to forge partnerships designed to “break down systemic barriers, create new community-informed resources and successful program scale.”

“Big problems require even bigger solutions that address the symptoms as well as the systems that have contributed to the challenges Detroit continues to face,” said Jennifer Gilbert, co-founder of the Gilbert Family Foundation. “We look forward to working with existing and future partners to drive systemic change in Detroit.”

Dan Gilbert is the co-founder of Quicken Loans, a mortgage lending company under the parent Rocket Companies, for which he is also the chairman. The Rocket Community Fund operates under the company.

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Officials say the Rocket Community Fund’s $150 million investment will prioritize issues related to housing, employment and public life in Detroit. The fund already operates similar programs such as the Neighbor to Neighbor and Make it Home programs meant to reduce the number of owner-occupied homes from being auctioned, and helping vulnerable homeowners from being displaced due to tax foreclosure.

“This unparalleled commitment builds off of the work we have done over the past several years and scales it in a way that will allow us to continue addressing issues that have been facing Detroiters for generations alongside the Gilbert Family Foundation,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Rocket Community Fund. “This impactful announcement comes with a promise of a brighter future and a deepened commitment to Detroit.”

To learn more about the organizations’ investment, visit the Gilbert Family Foundation’s website here.

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.