Artist tries to turn childhood home into community center, fights Land Bank attempt to take house

After a difficult childhood on Detroit's east side, a local artist is teaching and mentoring and helping in his neighborhood - but now, he needs a little help himself.  He wants to transform his childhood home into a community center but he's running into some road blocks.

Matthew "Jaye" Green bought his childhood home from the Detroit Land Bank back in 2019. He had big hopes for this space.

"(I) replaced this door and this frame out here - this is brand new," said Green, 28. "I bought the house in hopes to refurbish it and turn it in to a community center."

He says the area near Mack and Bewick, there's not a lot in terms of art - the very thing that saved him from the streets. He says lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, his grandmother raised him here - but he was in and out of jail in his teens - not anymore...

"I've been mentoring to youth for about 10 years now - I have about, over eight years or so working in Detroit Public Schools and just non-profit work," said Green.

He teaches, mentors to youth, works for a nonprofit - and is building his Defaction Project which is all about art. But they've also been collecting clothing and other items for those in need in his community.

Green has been recognized by the City as a Detroit hero and has been a finalist for grants to create that community center- they call it - The Bando.

"I really want some positive vibes over here - The Bando has allowed positivity to come back to the neighborhood - we've done workshops - we've done give-aways," he said.

But those hopes of rehabbing his grandmother's old home - haven't taken shape. There was Covid - contractors and funding were hard to find.

Still he tried - the walls are a workshop for local artists. But without plumbing or a kitchen - no furnace or water heater, Green is out of compliance with the purchase agreement - and the Land Bank is reclaiming the property.

"I just received a notice in the mail saying that they're trying to take the property back," he said. "So just trying to spread some awareness on my situation, because I do a lot for the city and I feel like the city should have some empathy for me."

A spokesperson for the Detroit Land Bank says they don't want to take the home but it's been 3 and a half years, he's been given multiple extensions - and Green failed to make the repairs required in the purchase agreement. It says unless someone steps up - quickly - to do the required rehab - Green will lose the property.

And - he's afraid - he will lose his opportunity - to make an impact here.

"For a while I just thought my life was hopeless but really honing in on art and music and really focusing on that - it allowed me to stay out of jail - stay focused," he said. "It helped me get out the streets - and change my life around so I feel like I employ those skills on other youth it will save their lives as well."

To donate and help Jaye Green, go HERE to find the Go FundMe page.

Matthew Jaye Green

Matthew Jaye Green