Some Delray residents to house swap, getting renovated homes

- It's not hard to tell Maria Walkenbach can't wait to move. She lives in the Delray neighborhood on Detroit's southwest side.

"I can't stand the noise, the dust. I have asthma. My asthma is kicking in very bad, the kids can't play outside because of the traffic," she said.

The future Gordie Howe International Bridge will be built in her backyard and she wants out. Close to 300 people live nearby where the bridge will go in.

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"I'm a widow, my house is falling apart. To be able to move into a brand new home is a dream come true," she said. "Plus I get to know another area of Detroit because I'm a Detroiter through and through."

Now she can get out for free thanks to "House Swap" which allows close to 60 families to swap their Delray house with another home in a different neighborhood - a completely renovated home.

"They have dealt with so many different issues by virtue of where they live," said Charity Dean with Bridging Neighborhoods program. "Health issues, noise issues and so this gives them the opportunity to not just leave a place but go to another neighborhood in the city of Detroit."

A house in the Springwells neighborhood has been emptied and cleared out on the inside. Once the outside is made over, someone like Maria will get to swap keys and deeds, and get to move in. 

It's a dream come true for another group - contractors looking for work, who can get certified to work on homes where ex-Delray residents will move in.

There is an event Wednesday Feb. 7 - The Residential Contractor Fair from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Patton Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere, Detroit.

"It's making sure we get Detroit contractors, folks that care about what we are doing, working on these homes that are going to be ready for these families," Dean said.

Families like Maria's.

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