From left, Eastpointe Public Information Officer Deborah Trotter, President and CEO of Macomb County Habitat for Humanity Helen Hicks, and Eastpointe City Councilman Harvey Curley stand outside a home on Gascony Avenue that was recently remodeled by Habitat for Humanity.

From left, Eastpointe Public Information Officer Deborah Trotter, President and CEO of Macomb County Habitat for Humanity Helen Hicks, and Eastpointe City Councilman Harvey Curley stand outside a home on Gascony Avenue that was recently remodeled by Habitat for Humanity.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Eastpointe partners with Habitat for Humanity to refurbish, sell homes

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 5, 2021

 Habitat for Humanity volunteers and contractors put significant work into remodeling tax-reverted homes so they can be sold. Work includes improvements such as new cabinets, new bathrooms, new flooring and fresh paint.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers and contractors put significant work into remodeling tax-reverted homes so they can be sold. Work includes improvements such as new cabinets, new bathrooms, new flooring and fresh paint.

Photo provided by Deborah Trotter

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EASTPOINTE — A partnership between the city of Eastpointe and Macomb County Habitat for Humanity is yielding positive results, with the latter renovating and remodeling several tax-reverted homes in the community so that they can be resold to local families or those in need, including one on Gascony Avenue that was completed March 26.

Helen Hicks, the president and CEO of Macomb County Habitat for Humanity, said the relationship is a mutually beneficial one in which her organization gets new houses to fix and provide to those struggling to become homeowners, and Eastpointe gets previously vacant houses filled with families who are paying taxes.

“Habitat has a relationship with Eastpointe where, from time to time, we scoop up their tax-reverted homes,” she explained. “We then have our construction crew and contractors come into the homes and assess what’s wrong and then repair them. We use some products from our ReStore, and then we bring them up to a beautiful state. Everything is done in high quality, and nothing is left unattended to, and then we sell the houses at an affordable price.”

“Eastpointe is a family town, and we want to be sure to advertise that to people outside of the city, so with Habitat giving back to the community, it shows we appreciate their efforts and their philanthropy,” said Deborah Trotter, the public information officer for Eastpointe. “We love that we can combine our resources to help people out there. It’s also giving back to the economy.”

The partnership actually stems from a stalled effort to build prefabricated homes in Eastpointe.

“Our relationship with Eastpointe started with us trying to put a couple of container homes into some lots in 2019,” said Hicks. “The residents were not really interested in that, so initially I thought the relationship might not go anywhere, but it turned out to be wonderful because this opportunity came up.”

The new relationship is far more popular with all parties involved and one that Trotter thinks yields greater benefits than the container homes would have.

“It’s a complete 180 degree turn from the previous situation with the container homes,” she said. “Both the city and the residents are behind this new effort, and I think people recognize this as a very great partnership.”

Those interested in learning more about such homes on the market can call Macomb County Habitat for Humanity at (586) 263-1540.

“There are so many benefits (to this relationship),” said Hicks. “Not only is the housing stock in the city exceptional, the homes on these streets are beautiful. Anyone would be proud to live in this community. Anyone would want to get these houses for a reasonable amount of money, fix them and sell them at a very good price. Working with the people in (the Eastpointe city government) has been wonderful. … I think we’re helping each other out.”

She added that, although her organization works with other communities, Eastpointe has proven to be the most fruitful over the last two years.

“We have this relationship with Clinton Township at this level. We also have had this relationship with Warren. Right now, housing stock is almost unavailable in those two communities, though,” Hicks said. “Eastpointe is where we are investing most of our labor right now, because it’s where the opportunity is.”

Significant work goes into refurbishing each house in order to sell it to new owners. That was true for the home on Gascony Avenue.

“In this particular house, when you walked in the front door, the floor was so buckled from water damage that it was like going up a hill,” Hicks said. “There was a lot of tear-out of the floor in the living room and downstairs hallway. The bathroom had tile with asbestos in it, so that all had to be torn out. There was a closet we converted into a bathroom, which increases the value of the home. All the floors were replaced, all the kitchen cabinets are new, the bathrooms were totally redone, new paint throughout, new carpet throughout and a lot of exterior work.”

“The word I want people to know about these homes is ‘quality,’” said Trotter. “When I first heard about these homes, I didn’t expect the level of work that Habitat puts into these homes. The little details are incredible: the crown molding, the new additions, the level of work. They made this a quality remodel, and they want these houses to feel like homes a family can live in for years.”

Both Habitat and Eastpointe are working with the goal of putting the homes in the hands of residents.

“Sometimes, we have people on our waiting list who have begun to investigate what it takes to be a homeowner. With Eastpointe, we try to work with the refugees who are coming in legally and are working with the United Methodist Church. That was something City Council helped us with,” said Hicks. “We also promised council that we would offer these homes to buyers who live in Eastpointe or were associated with Eastpointe. The residents should have a chance to come into a house like this. This particular house (on Gascony Avenue) we are looking at with that attitude of looking at current Eastpointe residents first.”

This attitude means striking a delicate balance between affordability and maintaining the value of the surrounding homes.

“This house, for example, we are hoping to list it for about $108,000, and the homes in this area appraise for well over that,” said Hicks. “We don’t want to list it too low, because then it will bring the value of all the homes in the area down, and we wouldn’t want to do that to Eastpointe, but we still want to make sure it’s within the grasp of those in need. To make it more affordable, we have pots of money we can offer the buyer for down payment assistance.”

Hicks also stressed that the efforts are all nonprofit-based and that no one is making money off these projects.

“Some people will come into the city and they will fix up houses and then rent them out or try to flip them and make as much money as possible,” she said. “Habitat doesn’t make any money. Whatever money might come off of a house like this one will go back into helping another house in the city. It’s a nonprofit, so no one is gouging anyone else. A lot of love went into this house, because that’s who Habitat is. Everything from the sinks to the toilets is the best we can get. We don’t put garbage in. Nine times out of 10, even if a toilet is donated, we won’t put it into one of our houses unless it is brand new.”

Both Habitat and Eastpointe are hoping they will be able to continue this partnership for a long time to come.

“The city is hoping to grow this relationship. There are more homes we’re hoping to work with them on. Hopefully, there won’t be any demolished homes in Eastpointe; they will all be remodeled homes with families inside,” Trotter said. “This is a perfect example of Eastpointe residents and partners working together to improve the community.”

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