Detroit's basement protection program aims to help 2,000 homes in 11 neighborhoods

The second phase of a homeowner program in Detroit that pays for installing backwater valves in basements begins this week. 

The Basement Backup Protection Program, which was launched in two Detroit neighborhoods in 2023, will cover residents in nine more neighborhoods that are prone to flooding. Along with the backwater valves, contractors will also repair sewer lines for homes that have cracked or leaky pipes.

The program is free to homeowners that live in one of the 11 neighborhoods selected by the Detroit water department that are the most prone to flooding.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department spokesperson Bryan Peckinpaugh said the city learned a lot during its program's pilot year, including some of the challenges that contractors ran into and what sort of funding would be necessary.

Among the biggest surprises was the number of homes that needed their sewer lines replaced or repaired, which more than doubled the cost of getting a home up to working condition. About 40% of homes needed repairs to the sewer lines in phase one and the department expects a similar percentage of homes will also need sewer line repairs for the second phase. 

Homes that needed both the valve installation and the pipe repaired cost about $15,000, a pricey repair the homeowner won't need to cover and aims to stop basements from flooding.

"It's a quality of life difference maker for (homeowners') livelihood and their health and safety," he said.

Other challenges included finding enough contractors and requiring homeowners pay a deposit. In response, the city council has approved six contractors and removed the homeowner pay portion, Peckinpaugh said.

"We want to take away any burden to get into the program," he said.

Each repair takes about three days if a valve is being installed, and around five days if the sewer line needs fixing.

Last year, homes in the Aviation Sub and Victoria Park neighborhoods were first on the list to get repairs. The program used $2.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to install 382 backwater valves in the two neighborhoods.

For phase two, the program will prioritize homes that didn't get valves last year before moving on to the other nine neighborhoods, which include Barton-McFarland, Chadsey Condon, Garden View, Warrendale, Cornerstone Village, East English Village, Jefferson Chalmers, Morningside, and Moross Morang.


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Approximately 2,000 homeowners were approved for the program, which plans to use $60 million from various funding sources to pay for the repairs. The city council allocated $4 million that will be used specifically for homes in Jefferson Chalmers, which is one of Detroit's most flooded neighborhoods. 

Another $56 million is expected to come from federal Housing and Urban Development department for flood mitigation; the bulk of which will go toward the basement backup protection program. 

If any funding is leftover after those who applied get their repairs, the application process will reopen for others to apply. 

Learn more here.