Lease-Purchase Program Succeeds in Detroit

An innovative Lease Purchase Program, headed by Cinnaire in partnership with the City of Detroit, CHN Housing Partners, and other local partners, has enabled 73 families in Detroit to transition from renting to sustainable homeownership since the program’s inception in 2019. The Advancing Communities Through Homeownership initiative uses five steps to homeownership to assist low-income families in rental properties achieve ownership over the course of eight years. The original pilot program was developed across four Detroit neighborhoods, with 22 homes in Eastside Detroit Homes, 14 in University Grove Homes, 17 in Pinigree Park Homes, and 17 in the Homes at Houston Whittier.

This initiative is one of Cinnaire’s community impact programs and was designed as an anti-poverty and economic security strategy to benefit community stability and growth in Detroit. To qualify for the program, families must demonstrate reliable income and on-time rental payments, as well as enroll in a homebuyer’s education course designed to boost outcomes of the program. This initiative offers up to $10,000 in home purchase incentives, including downpayment assistance, access to personal financial counseling, a cash savings match program, and assistance with repairs and updates, income supports, and employment services. 100% of homes were sold to people of color, with 89% of homes also going to women-led households in Detroit. The average selling price for the homes was approximately $28,000.

Shirley R., a member of the program and former Detroit public school teacher, had been renting her home since 2005, and began the process to purchase it in 2019. “Buying this home felt like Christmas in November,” Shirley said. “My mortgage with taxes and insurance is now less than what I used to pay for rent. And closing costs were really reduced with the Down Payment Assistance program.” Both Shirley and Lona Council, another renter-to-homeowner, discussed their newfound pride and happiness in the opportunity to own their own homes and the joy in building lasting assets for their families. “The incentives that were offered are unmatched,” said Lona. “At the end of five years, I’ll own this home outright. I have found nothing even comparable.”

Additional program support has come from DTE Energy, the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program administered by MSHDA, and $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds through the City of Detroit for down payment assistance and capital repairs. Enhanced residential stability strives to create deeper social ties and a financial stake in Detroit, supporting generational wealth and higher quality of life for all.

Another 120 families are in the program, working their way to homeownership. There are approximately 1,400 other single family and townhome rental units developed with LIHTC, 50% of which are currently eligible for sale to renters in Detroit. Earlier this year the city launched a $4.2 million program to facilitate purchase of these homes by renter occupants using many of the best practices proven through Cinnaire’s program. CHN Housing Partners was selected to lead implementation based on their success in Cleveland converting over 1,500 lease purchase families to direct homeownership, as well as their partnership in Cinnaire’s current program. Through the City’s new program, CHN will fund up to $10,000 per home in capital repairs, coordinating the work prior to sale, and it will provide up to $10,000 to eligible purchasers for down payment assistance towards their home. CHN can also provide support to owners in preparing for sales and overseeing sales management.

To participate in the program, interested renters should contact:

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