Mar 27, 2023 - News

Council member opposes sale of occupied houses

Council Member Mary Waters speaks at a formal session meeting. Photo: Courtesy of the city of Detroit, via Flickr

Council Member Mary Waters and the Detroit Land Bank Authority are at odds over a pending real estate deal that involves already occupied homes.

Driving the news: The Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) wants to sell 42 houses it owns to Bedford Development for $105,000. The development company plans to renovate them for $2.7 million.

  • A City Council committee held off on voting to approve the sale, after Waters held a news conference pushing against the sale and the DLBA's actions.

What they're saying: Waters says the DLBA is "favoring profit over people." It's moving forward with this sale while not giving the people who are unofficially occupying 26 of the homes an appropriate chance to buy the homes themselves first, she argues.

  • Some of the occupants spoke at Waters' Wednesday news conference, saying they've been trying to buy their homes but are unable to do so due to scams, ineligibility or getting what some called the "runaround" from the land bank. Many said they have spent money improving the homes.

The other side: The DLBA did substantial outreach and occupants either didn't respond or weren't eligible for its Buy Back program that's meant to allow those staying in the houses to become homeowners, a spokesperson says.

  • 1,159 people have entered the Buy Back program and 984 have completed it.
  • The developer is required to work with occupants to help them become tenants or homeowners in the house and if not, connect them with relocation assistance.

What's next: Waters requested proof of the DLBA's outreach, which officials said they would provide. The matter will be back before the committee on April 6 for a potential vote, and then would require approval from the full Council.

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