Develop Detroit & HPN New Market Tax Credits at Work

Even as the affordability crisis seems to loom ever larger, those of us in the business of creating homes for all know where to look for hope. This week we looked to the city of Detroit where Develop Detroit is breaking ground on a new project to build and rehab single family for-sale homes in the North End and Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood. It’s hard to think of a better reason to break ground in one of America’s most historically influential cities.

The project, which will create up to 70 new and rehabbed homes, is part of Develop Detroit’s multi-faceted approach to stabilizing and strengthening targeted neighborhoods with mixed income and mix-use projects. The preservation of Marwood apartments, a naturally occurring affordable housing property, is already underway in the same neighborhood, and the development of these abutting and nearby single family homes are part of a comprehensive revitalization effort being spearheaded by Develop Detroit. Like all of Develop Detroit’s projects, both are rooted in a coordinated neighborhood and city wide strategy with the active engagement of residents, community organizations, the private sector, and the City of Detroit.

This development and investment will strengthen and stabilize the neighborhood, while still giving current North End and Grandmont-Rosedale residents an opportunity to benefit from the revitalization effort. It’s exciting to see the expertise and capital Housing Partnership Network (HPN) brings successfully leveraging the power and commitment of Develop Detroit’s partners in city government, community organizations, and institutions like JP Morgan Chase, to create new homeownership opportunities for Detroit residents.

HPN helped found Develop Detroit, a nonprofit developer focusing on creating housing for all Detroiters led by the extraordinary Sonya Mays, in the mold of our members, all high-performing nonprofit developers, owners, and financial institutions networked to create change in their own communities. Based on our experience in cities across the country, we believed Detroit needed a high capacity and entrepreneurial nonprofit company like Develop Detroit that would bring capital and expertise to help its partners carry out revitalization efforts throughout the city.

We envisioned a Detroit led and governed institution that would become a permanent and catalytic component of a dynamic community development and affordable housing system. Boosted by enterprise-level capital from HPN, made possible by funding from JPMC, and using HPN members’ proven partnership model, Develop Detroit leverages and accelerates the impact of the many public, private, community and philanthropic partners who are committed to extending the resurgence of Downtown Detroit into the neighborhoods.

This week’s groundbreaking in the North End and Grandmont-Rosedale is more than a celebration of 70 new homes, it’s the celebration of the momentum of the revitalization of Detroit. We’ve seen this kind of momentum before, in Develop Detroit’s sister organization Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP), founded by HPN over a decade ago in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Since 2007, and with the support of HPN, including corporate-level capital rather than project-based funding, GCHP has created and preserved over 450 homes in New Orleans, and reduced residential vacancies by 24% and business vacancies by 145 since 2014. So, while we can’t predict the future, we can recognize the signs of hope.

These new and rehabbed homes are made possible by HPN’s unique New Market Tax Credits approach, using a single-family housing model developed by Smith NMTC Associates to grow our members’ single family for-sale housing business. This diversity of strategies – single family, multi-family, resident services, homebuyer counseling – is a part of HPN’s charge to research and develop new approaches to addressing the housing crisis in the U.S. 

In places like New Orleans and Detroit, we’ve seen how flexible, enterprise-level capital enables organizations like Develop Detroit to think creatively, work collaboratively, and achieve greater results. Imagine how many more groundbreakings we could celebrate if Develop Detroit and every one of our member organizations had access to more enterprise capital that gave the flexibility and resources to do what they do best – give everyone the chance at the opportunities that start with a safe and stable home. HPN is working with our members to create a pooled fund to raise this type of enterprise capital, and we will report on the success of this effort as it evolves. 

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