Families buy foreclosed homes back from Detroit land bank

- The first group to successfully buy their homes back after losing them to foreclosure is being celebrated Wednesday.

The Detroit Land Bank Authority's Buy Back Program allows participants to purchase their homes back from DLBA as they are connected to resources and public benefits.

RELATED: Program allows Detroiters to buy back homes lost to foreclosure

First piloted in February 2016, the first group with more than 80 participants has successfully completed the program.

First piloted in February 2016, the first group with more than 80 participants has successfully completed the program.

Latonya Smith received the deed to her home Wednesday after completing the process of buying back her house on Wabash. Her son's cancer and her own illness had left her unable to work or pay taxes and she lost the home to foreclosure.

"I finally paid my taxes off and got my home and purchased the lot next door too. Oh, I'm so excited. Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said.

Mayor Mike Duggan was on hand for the festivities as happy homeowners were given their deeds.

"We don't want to own the houses. We want you to own the houses, and today we're celebrating your success so congratulations," he said.

The mayor, fresh off a big win in Tuesday's primary, touted the success of this land bank program while acknowledging the city's troubled demolition program that's still under federal investigation.

"People think of the land bank as only demolition but we've sold 8,000 side lots. We've now sold 140 houses. We've sold 2,000 houses on our auction site where people moved in, so it's got a lot of different pieces and this is a good day. We've had some rougher days but this is a good day for the land bank," he said.

It was a great day for the Detroiters who get to continue to call the houses their homes. Many of them were renters whose landlords failed to pay taxes.

People in the program pay a flat fee of $1,000 and put property taxes in escrow, as well as pay their bills and complete financial workshops for a year. As long as they stay current on their taxes, they can live in their homes.

"It's a chance for a poor man to have his own crib," said Anthony Townsend, who is buying back his home. "I'm living large. Now my daughter and granddaughter have a place to stay the rest of their life."

Latashia Collins says this is the best thing that ever happened to Detroit.

"For them to let people buy back their houses for little to nothing this was great. Now I've got my house," she said.

To learn more about the program, CLICK HERE.

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