Focus on the Neighborhoods East English Village
By Daphne Hughes
Prospective homebuyers looking to rediscover Detroit will be pleasantly surprised by the diverse housing stock and amenities that await them in the historic area known as East English Village.
The neighborhood is bounded by Outer Drive, Cadieux Road, Harper Avenue and Mack Avenue. There are many businesses, restaurants, services and churches within a short distance. And, residents pride themselves on the diversity in their community.
“The biggest asset we have is our people,” said William Barlage, president of the East English Village Association. “Everyone talks about a neighborhood of choice and a neighborhood of a little bit of everybody on the Earth. We’re it. Black, White, Asian, Arabic, gay, straight, multiple family household, single family household. We still have some original owners. We’re very proud of that fact.”
East English Village was founded as ribbon farms between 1808 and 1810. As the city progressed, the property was eventually bought out and housing was developed beginning in 1913.
Each house in the neighborhood is unique; no two are the same. They were built to the specifications of the original owners and include a mixture of Cape Cods, Bungalows, English Tudors and Colonials. The houses are constructed from solid, sound materials and typical interior details include Pewabic tile, large fireplaces, and custom millwork.
East English Village has one of the most active homeowners’ associations in the city. Monthly meetings usually attract anywhere from 75 to 200 residents.
“When a new homeowner buys a home in East English Village, not all know that we have a homeowners association,” said Barlage. “So, we’re constantly trying to get that word out to the realtors of choice in the neighborhood and the city and the state primarily, because we’ve had people move from out of state into East English Village. So, it’s a nice surprise that they know there’s a solid network of great people right next door.”
The East English Village Association contracts with private companies for security patrol and snow removal — funded by the residents. The organization also hosts numerous events and activities throughout the year, including a landscaping contest, garage sale, neighborhood cleanups, garden tour, and holiday banquet.
For more information on East English Village, visit: www.eastenglishvillage.org
Focus on the Neighborhoods
Homeownership reality through assistance program
By Daphne Hughes
Homeownership. It’s considered the American Dream. Unfortunately for some — especially African Americans and low-income families — home ownership is a dream deferred. The high price of housing and the amount of money needed up front to purchase a home often force prospective homebuyers to put the American Dream on hold.
In an effort to demystify the home purchasing process, the Michigan Chronicle and Fifth Third Bank have teamed up for a campaign named Rediscover Detroit. In addition to reintroducing potential homebuyers to some of the city’s hidden gem neighborhoods, the program also provides valuable information on acquiring a home.
“I think the main benefit — and the reason that we are such proponents of home ownership – is that it helps you to build wealth,” said Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President Jack Riley. “It helps you to build a legacy of wealth over time. And, by that I mean that you build equity in something, which is in essence what wealth is. So, rather than paying rent every month and having nothing to show for it, when you pay your mortgage every month you’re pouring those dollars back into your house that will return to you at some point down the road in your life when you either sell your home or even use it to leverage for equity to do other things.”
“Rediscover Detroit not only provides an opportunity for us to educate the public about Detroit neighborhoods, but also to be a resource tool for first-time homebuyers interested in achieving the American Dream of homeownership,” said Michigan Chronicle Associate Publisher and COO Cathy Nedd.
Although home sales are rising across the country, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that home ownership is heading down. After hitting a high of nearly 70 percent during the housing boom of 2004, the homeownership rate has dropped to just under 64 percent.
There are a lot of factors that have led to the reduction in homeownership, including higher housing prices, tighter mortgage policies, slow growth in the job market, mounting personal debt, and the difficulty of saving for a down payment. In Detroit, potential homebuyers face specific challenges related to home values and financing.
“In Detroit, you can buy a house for little or nothing, but if it doesn’t appraise out and you can’t improve it . . . for example, if you want to put $50,000 in, but it only appraised at $35,000, you’re limited by what the lender is only giving you: $35,000. And you need $50,000,” said Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President Byna Elliott. “But hopefully that’s improving, if you look at what the Mayor talked about regarding neighborhoods having increased home values. That increase in home values allows the appraisal to come out in a way that allows people to get access to traditional credit financing.”
Another challenge for many prospective homebuyers is coming up with the down payment for a home. It can be hard to put aside money while paying rent and paying off other loans.
“We just launched a new home ownership down payment assistance program to let people know that there are resources available to help them achieve that dream of home ownership,” continued Elliott. “There has never been as many resources available to people to buy homes in the city. You don’t want individuals to miss out on all of the great incentives as the city comes back. You don’t want people to miss out on the great ways they can achieve home ownership for themselves. That’s all included in Rediscover Detroit.”
Fifth Third’s Jack Riley said the bank’s down payment assistance program provides consumers with 3 percent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $3,600. “It can be used for a down payment or against the closing costs in any way, shape or form,” he explained. “The eligibility includes the home is in a low income Census tract or the borrower is a low-income borrower. And they must qualify and meet the requirements for the Freddie Mac Home Possible product. So, it’s geared exactly toward the areas that we’re highlighting in our Rediscover Detroit program.”
Another requirement is that first-time homebuyers complete home ownership education and counseling courses, which are offered through Fifth Third Bank and several of Rediscover Detroit’s community partners.
The Fifth Third Bank down payment assistance can be used in conjunction with numerous other local and national programs. Combining these financial resources can make the American Dream more affordable for families looking to settle in Detroit’s hidden gem neighborhoods.
“We’ve got some great neighborhoods that people aren’t aware of as they travel through the city,” said Elliott. “And we want to show that we have a lot of neighborhoods with a lot of pride and a lot of history and great neighbors that people may want to take advantage of, along with quality housing stock that you can’t get anywhere else.”
On August 4, Fifth Third will kick off its annual Fifth Third eBus tour in Southeastern Michigan at its new headquarter located at One Woodward in downtown Detroit. Banking professionals will be on hand to educate potential home buyers about the process of purchasing a home. In addition, a home buyer education workshop will be conducted to help potential home buyers understand the importance of good credit, budgeting, how to work with a realtor, the mortgage process and down payment assistance resources. The tour dates for the eBus tour will be listed in next week’s edition of the Michigan Chronicle.
The Michigan Chronicle with the support of the Fifth Third Bank is sponsoring a series of articles and videos guiding the community on a virtual tour of Detroit’s hidden neighborhoods. Stay tuned next week as we highlight the next hidden gem community.
For more information on Rediscover Detroit, visit http://www.michiganchronicle.com