Doing Good in the Neighborhood

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    The Fifth Third Bank Neighborhood Impact Program (NIP) is one of the most popular and effective community programs the bank administers in southeast Michigan. 2009 was a record year for the NIP program. This year, 45 grants were awarded totaling $329,698.00 to homeowners in Detroit and surrounding cities. Historically, Fifth Third Bank had awarded just over $100,000 in NIP grant dollars across southeast Michigan.

    With the proliferation of depressed neighborhoods particularly in the city of Detroit, NIP grants have gone a long way to help stop the blight that contributes to declining home values.

    The goal of the program is simple, to concentrate funds in areas where residents living in owner/occupied homes can have access to resources to make repairs to their homes without incurring a significant amount of debt. The big picture result is that programs such as NIP help revive old, declining neighborhoods. When NIP funds are leveraged with the resources of other organizations, the positive effect is exponential.

    With the Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative (NDNI), Fifth Third Bank has worked toward helping in the turnaround and eventual transformation of targeted neighborhoods in the city of Detroit. This year our collaboration with Detroit LISC and NDNI has resulted in the improvements of 13 homes in three neighborhoods: Grand River/Greenfield, Osborn, and the North End. The partnership also proves the obvious lesson, that working together to leverage available resources has the greatest possible impact. Partnerships with these organizations helped to stretch every dollar that was awarded and made it possible to award more residents.

    “I have the opportunity to talk to the clients and help them through the approval process. I usually see the properties or pictures of the properties before the work is done and after. I am always amazed at the transformation. Sometimes the homes look like entirely different homes. It’s gratifying. It’s a great feeling to know that I am assisting someone who really needs the support,” said Brenda Massey, program manager for the Fifth Third Bank NIP program.

    “The clients I work with live in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. Many of these areas used to be very nice little communities. Some of the houses in these neighborhoods are now a little worn out just from time. I love working with my clients but have a special place in my heart for my senior clients who work hard to make sure they cross every “t” and dot every “i.”

    In addition to their efforts in the city, the federal government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program helped to provide an additional boost to an already important and effective program that assists homeowners in revitalizing their homes and their neighborhoods as well.

    “There are so many positive outcomes from collaboration such as preserving and strengthening the existing housing stock in Detroit neighborhoods, residents collaborating and creating block clubs and other social networks that come together for a cause, and the most rewarding outcome which is the restoring of community pride,” said Tonya Gray, project manager for NDNI.

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