Poor housing conditions such as exposed electrical wiring, broken heating or lack of running or hot water affect more than 91,000 residents in Detroit, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan.
Researcher Lydia Wileden, who wrote the report “Using American Rescue Plan Funds to Meet Detroiters’ Home Repair Needs,” says issues like those are critical, but they are not the most frequent problem Detroiters face with their homes. Failing plumbing, unsafe trees, crumbling porches and foundations, pests and broken appliances are among the top problems reported by residents, she says.
According to the survey, 14% of residents say they are very dissatisfied with the condition of their homes. Young families and renters are among those most affected by poor housing conditions.
Wileden says current city programs focus on senior citizens and disabled residents, while there are other populations more at-risk to living in homes in disrepair.
“Particularly concerning to us is the number of households with children that need home repair, and renters are also a population that are more likely to be living in inadequate quality housing,” Wileden says.
Detroit is getting $826 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, and the city is putting up $30 million to assist residents in home repairs. As part of the Renew Detroit program, the city plans to service up to 750 homes annually. At that rate, it would take more than 50 years to help all the homes that need major repairs, according to U-M.
“Given the scale of the ARPA funds and that Detroiters have said that making these types of investments into Detroit neighborhoods is a priority, could we increase that number?” she says.
City officials have pledged to put half of Detroit’s ARPA funds toward neighborhoods. Plans include cleaning vacant properties and building new streetscapes for commercial areas.