Habitat for Humanity Receives Gift to Launch $25 Million Detroit Revitalization Initiative

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson donates $1 million to “Leaders to ReBuild Detroit”

DETROIT — Habitat for Humanity today announced a $1 million personal gift from General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, launching Habitat for Humanity Detroit’s “Leaders to ReBuild Detroit,” a three-year $25 million initiative to engage Detroit’s corporate leaders in revitalizing the city. Roy Roberts, emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, and Karla Henderson, chief development officer for the city of Detroit, helped announce the initiative and gift.

“Leaders to ReBuild Detroit” will focus on the Morningside Commons neighborhood, serving a minimum of 500 families by 2014 through house construction, rehabilitation, critical repairs, and energy-efficiency upgrades and weatherization projects. Additionally, these families will participate in financial literacy training, homeownership workshops and community security initiatives provided by partnering organizations. The initiative is part of Habitat for Humanity’s statewide $225 million ReBuild Michigan campaign to address affordable housing needs in more than 70 Michigan counties.

“Habitat’s mission is to create affordable housing, but the broader strategy behind ‘Leaders to ReBuild Detroit’ is to integrate affordable housing work with community development and improvement, providing a holistic approach to problems caused by financial insecurity, foreclosures and unemployment,” said Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit. “This initiative will nearly triple the impact Habitat Detroit has had in the city to-date and leverage resources to rebuild Detroit communities.”

The Akersons’ cornerstone donation is intended to inspire other corporate leaders to contribute to Detroit’s revitalization. The gift will fund house rehabilitation, construction and repairs in partnership with 20 families and weatherization projects in partnership with 12 families.

“A strong America is built on strong communities, and building them starts with one hammer, one nail and one person who cares – from there, it’s contagious,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.  “My wife, Karin, and I want to see this effort to rebuild Detroit catch on, spread out and draw scores more volunteers and millions more in contributions.”

“Leaders to ReBuild Detroit” is collaboration among Habitat for Humanity Detroit, Habitat for Humanity Michigan and partnering organizations including the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Michigan State Housing Development Agency, Wayne County, the Detroit Land Bank Authority and Detroit Local Initiative Support Corporation.

“Having several schools in the Morningside Commons and immediately adjacent neighborhoods, Detroit Public Schools has a strong commitment to stabilizing and revitalizing this community,” said Roy Roberts, DPS emergency manager. “We recently announced a comprehensive transformation aimed at improving academics and creating a more efficient system of high-performing schools. Included in that transformation plan is opening a new $46.5 million high school within this very community this fall.”

To participate or donate to “Leaders to ReBuild Detroit,” interested parties or individuals are encouraged to visit www.habitatdetroit.org or call 313-521-6691.

“It will take a community-wide effort to ensure the success of ‘Leaders to ReBuild Detroit,'” Tilford said.  “It can be another major step in the collective effort to rebuild this great city – one neighborhood at a time.”