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Native Detroiters Ayanas and Jerome Woodard have been married for 18 years, but have known each other their entire lives. They grew up as neighbors on the same block on Detroit’s Northeast side. Their roots in the community are deep and their love for Detroit strong. Even through the city’s turbulent times, the Woodards remained committed to the Motor City—so committed that 15 years ago the couple moved into Ayanas’s family home. It is where she grew up, and where the couple is now raising their 13 year-old son, Jerome II.
They both have careers rooted in metro Detroit. Ayana works as a family independence specialist with the Department of Health and Human Services, and currently Jerome serves as a vehicle supply specialist with Superior Ambulance.
“We never thought about leaving the city,” says Ayanas. “It was important to me to stay in my family home. And, our home is paid for and comfortable.”
But, over the years the property, which was built in 1948, began to show its age and required many improvements. According to the Woodards, the list of repairs included some big ticket items, such as replacing the roof and a failing furnace. The costs and scale of the projects exceeded their budget. The situation caused the couple a great deal of anxiety, until they saw a local TV news story on a loan program designed to help area residents with home repairs.
The Detroit 0% Interest Home Repair Loan Program, a partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the City of Detroit, Bank of America and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, offers zero interest loans from $5,000 to $25,000 to help homeowners invest in and repair their properties. The goal is to support neighborhood revitalization, address health and safety issues, increase property values, and help Detroiters secure and maintain homeowner’s insurance. Borrowers have up to 10 years to pay back the loans.
Since the program launched in 2015, nearly 2,300 homeowners have applied for home repair loans and 783 have been approved. To date, 413 homeowners have borrowed $7.7 million; leading to direct reinvestment in their homes and neighborhoods.
Ayanas contacted Jefferson East, Inc. (JEI); one of LISC’s designated intake centers, and applied for the program.
“JEI is committed to locating more home repair programs and dollars,” said Michelle Lee, Director of Housing and Neighborhood Services for JEI. “We are also committed to being a resource to help homeowners in our area stay in their homes.”
The JEI intake center has a financial opportunity coordinator on staff to help applicants through the process, improve their stability, and increase their financial capabilities through education.
“They made it (the loan process) so easy,” said Ayanas. “The staff even helped us review and clean up our credit report.”
To date, JEI has helped to facilitate almost $1 million dollars in loan closings for completed home construction, including the Woodard’s projects. The couple used their $25,000 loan to replace the roof, install a new furnace, repair the driveway and install new windows in the house.
Jerome said, “It took a lot of stress and worry off. Now we can focus on the little things, instead of the big things.”
The Woodards are also spreading the word about the loan program. “We’ve told our neighbors and some family members about the program,” said Ayanas. “It was a blessing to us. It’s a great program…everyone should apply.”
To learn more about The Detroit 0% Interest Home Repair Loan Program, visit: http://www.detroithomeloans.org.