Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Federal Government: HUD Awards $8.1M in CARES Act Funding to Michigan
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $8.1 million in CARES Act funding to 61 public housing authorities in Michigan to help families prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michigan’s share is part of a total of $472 million distributed nationally for families assisted by Housing Choice vouchers and Mainstream vouchers.
“This funding will provide additional resources to public housing authorities to make sure people have a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home,” says Ben Carson, secretary of HUD. “HUD continues to work with our public housing authorities to protect American families from this invisible enemy, including vulnerable residents in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.”
Metro Detroit housing agencies receiving HUD funds include:
- Clinton Township Housing Commission ($3,197)
- Detroit Housing Commission ($701,421)
- Eastpointe Housing Commission ($22,862)
- Pontiac Housing Commission (61,390)
- River Rouge Housing Commission ($33,891)
- Rockford Housing Commission ($5,734)
- Roseville Housing Commission ($35,651)
- Clair Shores Housing Commission ($11,350)
- Southfield Housing Commission ($34,691)
- Sterling Heights Housing Commission ($6,075)
- Taylor Housing Commission ($153,964)
For the full list of recipients, visit here.
“These new funds are important and will go a long way to help low-income residents secure and retain affordable housing during this unprecedented time,” says Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary for public and Indian housing.
Quicken Loans’ 2019 Neighbor to Neighbor Campaign Aids Homeowners
The 2019 Quicken Loans Community Fund’s Neighbor to Neighbor campaign – alongside other philanthropic investments, community action, and awareness campaigns – resulted in a 94 percent decrease in occupied homes entering the Wayne County Tax Auction compared to 2015.
Of the 521 properties entering the auction, 250 were occupied. In 2015, 9,111 properties entered the auction and 6,408 were owner-occupied.
Detroit also had 7,601 full HPTAP property tax exemptions granted in 2019, a 70 percent increase since 2016, the last year before the pilot Neighbor to Neighbor campaign that contacted property owners at immediate risk of property tax foreclosure.
Neighbor to Neighbor is a partnership with the City of Detroit Board of Review to provide Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program applications to 25,000 homeowners behind on their property taxes, and a $1 million investment into the city’s 0 percent interest home repair loan program.
It seeks to both connect residents living in properties behind on property taxes with resources, while simultaneously collecting data to inform critical property tax foreclosure interventions.
The campaign conducts workshops by the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the Board of Review, and more than a dozen community partners that provide Detroit residents free assistance filling out HPTAP applications. In 2019, those workshops accounted for 3,600 full property tax exemptions, nearly 40 percent of those granted.
“The Neighbor to Neighbor campaign and workshops are driving meaningful and sustainable reductions in property tax foreclosures, allowing thousands more Detroit residents to experience the housing stability they need and deserve,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Quicken Loans Community Fund. “Over the last three years, however, the Neighbor to Neighbor campaign has engaged countless homeowners who should have qualified for a complete property tax exemption but were unaware of the process. In order to reach everyone at risk, we are proud to partner with the Board of Review to proactively ensure every homeowner has access.”
The city also has made HPTAP applications available here and waived the notarization requirement for 2020.
The Neighbor to Neighbor campaign also found:
- An increase in the number of individuals who self-reported they would be eligible for a complete property tax exemption based on income guidelines, with 87 percent of homeowners surveyed reporting they qualify.
- 55 percent indicated they were unaware of the HPTAP exemption.
- Of the 6,242 renters in occupied homes that were tax delinquent, 75 percent said they were interested in owning their home.
- 38 percent of 13,889 homeowner-occupants contacted by Neighbor to Neighbor stated their structures need critical maintenance.
The entire Quicken Loans Community Fund Neighbor to Neighbor 2020 Update can be viewed here.
$30,000 Grant to be Used to Document Two Detroit Civil Rights Sites
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office has been awarded a $30,000 Underrepresented Communities grant from the National Park Service to document and nominate two sites significant to the 20th Century African American Civil Rights movement in Detroit to the National Register of Historic Places.
The two sites to be nominated are the Orsel and Minnie McGhee House and the Sojourner Truth Homes public housing complex. The grant to Michigan SHPO is among 18 grants awarded from the Underrepresented Communities grant program in this funding round.
“The nomination of these sites to the National Register will recognize two locations where African Americans in Detroit struggled for equality,” says Martha MacFarlane-Faes, deputy state historic preservation officer. “The significance of these sites extends beyond Detroit’s borders, as events which took place each had national ramifications. We look forward to building on previous Civil Rights documentation undertaken in recent years to further expand our understanding of the Civil Rights movement in Michigan.”
When Orsel and Minnie McGhee tried to purchase the Detroit house they had rented for 10 years, they were sued for violating the neighborhood’s restrictive racial covenant. Their case was included in Shelly v. Kramer, a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court by NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall. The result was a landmark decision declaring restrictive racial housing covenants unconstitutional in the United States.
Events surrounding the construction of the Sojourner Truth Homes public housing complex became a flashpoint that revealed the institutionalized segregation practiced by the federal government in 1942. Originally designated for African American defense workers, the occupancy was changed to all white following local protests. Detroit’s black leaders organized to demand Congress reinstate black occupancy. When black families attempted to move in, they were met with violence. The incident laid the foundation for the Detroit Race Riot of 1943.
To learn more about the State Historic Preservation Office, visit here.
In Related News: The State Historic Preservation Office has awarded grants to Detroit and Kalamazoo totaling $172,000 to preserve historic sites.
In Detroit, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex Inc., in partnership with the city of Detroit is receiving an $82,000 grant to hire a contractor to repair the floor decking and beams in sections 3B and 3C of the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant near New Center. This National Historic Landmark-designated building is the first purpose-built factory of the Ford Motor Co. and was where the first Model T cars were produced in 1908. Today, it is open to the public as the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant museum.
The city of Kalamazoo is receiving a $90,000 grant to hire a consultant who meets federal professional qualifications to undertake a complete reconnaissance-level Historic Resource Survey of Kalamazoo’s Edison Neighborhood. Located southeast of downtown, the Edison Neighborhood is home to a diverse mix of residential, commercial, and industrial properties, many of which exceed 100 years old.
Henry Ford Health System Kicks Off Music Therapy Program with DSO and MOT
Henry Ford Health System, in partnership with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre, is offering virtual musical performances to cancer patients via its music therapy program named for the founding general director of Michigan Opera Theatre, David DiChiera.
Through the David DiChiera Music Therapy Program, patients of Henry Ford Cancer Institute will be able to enjoy both live and archived virtual performances from the DSO and MOT at no cost.
Live performances, called “Live Music with the DSO,” will take place from noon-1 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month. MOT’s program will take place on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 2 p.m., beginning in September. Patients will be able to tune-in on iPads at Henry Ford Cancer Institute or via a link sent to their email.
“The Henry Ford Cancer Institute is a global destination for patients who travel from different countries and even different continents to receive the best possible care,” says Megan Winkel, manager of the Healing Arts Program at Henry Ford Cancer Institute. “Research studies have shown music therapy can reduce pain and discomfort, improve mood, diminish stress, increase quality of life, and allow patients to better communicate. Even beyond those benefits, this program will not only provide entertainment and relaxation for patients, but also allow them to experience some of Detroit’s culture while they focus on healing.”
The first event on July 29 featured a live violin performance from Adrienne Rönmark, who has been a member of the DSO’s 1st Violin section since 2008, and live bassoon and contrabassoon performances from Marcus Schoon, who has been the contrabassoonist of the DSO since September 1992.
To learn more about the Healing Arts program at Henry Ford Health System, visit here.