The family foundation of Quicken Loans founder and Rocket Companies chair Dan Gilbert and his wife, Jennifer, has pledged $350 million to the effort, while the companies' philanthropic arm will contribute $150 million. An initial investment of $15 million from the foundation will establish the Detroit Tax Relief Fund and support efforts to eliminate property tax debt owed by an estimated twenty thousand low-income homeowners in the city, preserving an estimated $400 million in wealth and home equity. According to the foundation, property tax foreclosure has been the biggest contributor to housing instability in Detroit over the last fifteen years, eroding homeownership, accelerating blight, and dragging down property values. The nonprofit Wayne Metro Community Action Agency will administer the fund, confirm applicants' eligibility, and pay the delinquent tax burden on their behalf.
The foundation also will build short- and long-term partnerships aimed at breaking down systemic barriers to equitable economic opportunities, creating community-informed resources, and scaling successful programs. Other investments will be focused on community priorities, including digital equity, home repair needs, and employment opportunities.
The Rocket Community Fund, whose primary focus areas are housing, employment, and public life, reports that its Neighbor to Neighbor outreach program, which helps owners of tax-delinquent properties obtain property tax exemptions based on their income, contributed to a 94 percent drop in the number of homes entering the Wayne County Tax Auction between 2015 and 2019.
"Everyone deserves to achieve the American dream of homeownership, and that includes the ability to sustainably and permanently enjoy the home you make for yourself, your family, and your loved ones," said Gilbert, who chaired the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force in 2013. "The greatest resource of any community is its people, and we are honored to be able to invest in removing this tax burden, which will build a stronger foundation for Detroit families to thrive."