Helping Young Jewish Detroiters Make the City Their Home
By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
October 1, 2018
Thinking about making the move to Detroit? There may be no better time than now. For young Jewish adults currently renting in or moving to the city, the decision to buy a home just got easier thanks to a new loan program from Hebrew Free Loan. While purchasing property is a big step, and often a pricey one, the Move-In Detroit program makes planting roots in Detroit more attainable for first-time home buyers — proving once again that one of our community’s oldest agencies is still one of its most innovative.
Since 1895, Hebrew Free Loan Detroit (HFL) has been distributing interest-free loans, allowing community members to access the things they need and want to better their lives. That’s 123 years of interest-free lending and, as one can imagine, what people want and need loans for has certainly changed over the last century.
“Our loan programs are always evolving and expanding, and we’ve adapted dollar amounts to existing loans to respond to our community’s demographic changes and trends, technological advancements and what’s needed in the here and now,” said David Contorer, Executive Director of Hebrew Free Loan Detroit.
Hebrew Free Loan Detroit’s success at responding to changing times is evident in some of their most recent programs. The Marvin I. Danto Small Business Loan Program allowed HFL to increase their small business loans from $15,000 to $100,000 in 2012, keeping entrepreneurs here in Michigan at a time when many were looking to launch businesses elsewhere. The William Davidson Jewish College Loan Program addressed the hike in tuition costs beginning in 2014, following the more limited size of the college loans in the prior JELS program, and offers loans for up to $7,500 for undergraduates and $10,000 for graduate students. As high-interest debt became a pervasive problem in the community, a debt consolidation loan program was launched. And when the cost of invitro fertilization made starting a family financially unattainable for many, HFL expanded their personal loan program to cover treatments.
So when Peggy Daitch and Peter Remington wanted to do something truly innovative and transformational for the community, a collaboration with Hebrew Free Loan was the perfect fit.
“We knew our interest was in growing the scale and vitality of the young Jewish community, now and in the future,” said Peggy Daitch. “We also had the personal experience of having our kids graduate from Michigan schools and move away. We wanted to help find a creative solution to keep young Jewish talent here and bring back the ones who left.”
Peggy is a past-president of Hebrew Free Loan and a passionate supporter of the organization. Peter’s consulting firm, The Remington Group, has been a partner and a catalyst for major cultural, educational and recreational growth in the city of Detroit for many years. With their shared love of the city and desire to have an impact on the Jewish future of Detroit, they approached HFL with the idea of creating a loan program for young adults looking to purchase a home in the city — and Move-In Detroit was born.
While Federal regulations prohibit the distribution of a loan for a down payment, Move-In Detroit is intended to help first-time homeowners cover the costs of repairs, remodeling, renovations and furnishings for a newly bought home in the city. To be eligible for a Move-In Detroit loan, applicants must be a Jewish Michigan resident, 40 years or younger, first-time home buyers, and, of course, the home being purchased must be in Detroit proper. Once approved, applicants can receive up to a $15,000 interest-free loan with two Michigan cosigners to help make their new house their dream home.
“Over the long term, we hope Move-In Detroit will incentivize young Jews to stay here or come here and buy homes in Detroit,” said Peggy. “We want this program to act as a stimulus that puts Detroit higher on everyone’s consideration list of where to live.”
Just launched in July, and with very little publicity or marketing, Move-In Detroit is already attracting a lot of attention and a significant number of applicants. In fact, two Move-In Detroit loans have already been awarded.
Emily Levine and Brett Willner are the very first recipients of a Move-In Detroit loan. Emily, originally from Huntington Woods, and Brett, originally from West Bloomfield, have been married for seven years. Prior to their recent home purchase in the historic Boston Edison District, the couple rented in the Cass Corridor neighborhood.
“We moved to Detroit in 2013. Brett was going to grad school and working at Wayne State, and we had heard that things were changing in the city and it was an interesting place to be,” said Emily. “Over the last two and a half years, we’ve made our home in Detroit and started our family here. We’re active members of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue and involved in a group called J-Tot that does programming for Jewish families with young children in the city. We’re also working with other families and organizations in the area to start a religious school in Detroit, which is very exciting.”
The home Emily and Brett purchased was built in 1916. The couple bought the house in good shape, with the exception of a very dilapidated garage on the property. Emily and Brett plan to use the loan to tear down the existing garage and build a nice, new one.
“Boston Edison boasts the oldest continuous neighborhood association in the city. People living here take great pride in the neighborhood, and as a result, there are beautiful homes here,” said Emily. “We love having an older house with character and we enjoy our neighborhood. We also like seeing all the changes happening in the city and being close to downtown.”
For more information about the Move-In Detroit Loan Program, please contact Hebrew Free Loan Detroit at 248.723.8184 or visit hfldetroit.org.