Detroiters catch a break with 0% interest Home Repair Loan

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“Squirrels were in my attic; plaster fell in my living room. It was just horrible.”

Detroiter Linda Childs has lived in her east side home for more than 30 years. The three decades have been kind to her, but not so much to her house. For Childs and many other homeowners, it’s been difficult to secure a loan for needed home improvements.

According to a Zillow report, almost 80 percent of applications for FHA-backed home improvement loans were denied in 2013. Insufficient collateral and poor credit were cited as the reasons for denial.

The City of Detroit saw this as a huge problem, so in 2015 the 0% Interest Home Repair Loan program was launched. “We want to make sure that Detroiters can access capital to make necessary improvements to their homes,” said Nicole Wyse, Associate Director of the Community Development Division in the Housing and Revitalization Department. “This is not just for our low-income folks, but our moderate and middle-income folks as well.”

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has been a partner in the program since its creation. The organization assisted the City in attracting resources that would help fund the project. Bank of America and, more recently, Quicken Loans have worked alongside the City of Detroit to sustain the loan program. “This program is really the first of its kind in the United States where we have this type of robust partnership,” said Damon Thompson, Deputy Director of LISC. “I give kudos to not only the Mayor’s Office, but also to the Housing and Revitalization Department for being the biggest partner in this by supplying their funds to keep this program.”

The loans range from $5,000 to $25,000, and recipients are given 10 years to pay back the loan.  While monthly payments are kept to an affordable amount for residents, there is no penalty for paying the loan off early. As the program name suggests, recipients only pay back what they borrow. While some traditional loans require a high credit score for approval, the 0% interest loan was designed to be accessible, calling for a minimum score of 560.  

Furnaces, water heaters, and windows are the most common improvements homeowners seek funds for. Roofs are another, and that’s what Childs needed badly. And since a roof can be one of the costliest improvements to a home, the 0% Interest Home Repair Loan seemed like the perfect opportunity for her.  

Childs says that the process was easy. Once the application and approval were complete, she was pleased to know that she didn’t have to search for someone to do the work, as the program already had certified contractors on standby.  

Thanks to the loan, Childs no longer has rainwater coming into her home. “I’m very satisfied. I have absolutely no complaints,” said Childs. They even put on new gutters; something she is extremely excited about.

“To be able to provide residents with these resources so that they can continue to maintain and live in their home safely is super important to us,” said Wyse.  “Every time we complete a project, we're just happy to know that we've been able to serve another Detroiter.”

For more information about the 0% Interest Home Repair Loan visit