Delray resident displaced by new bridge now at home in northwest Detroit

April 6th, 2017
Virginia Shelton on the porch of her new home in northwest Detroit.

To make way for construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, hundreds of residents in the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit had to move. Virginia Shelton was one of them.

Virginia in front of her former home on Waterman Street in Delray in 2016. (Photo by Dax Melmer / Windsor Star)

Virginia, 76, had lived in Delray since she was a teenager. Twenty years ago, she bought a home there on Waterman Street for $55,000. Last year, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) expropriated her property for the new bridge. Southwest Solutions was asked by the City of Detroit and the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition to help relocate Virginia and other displaced residents who wanted to continue to live in the city.

“I wanted to remain in Detroit because I’m attached to the city and I feel there are many good things happening here,” Virginia said. Virginia worked for the City’s Planning and Development department for over 27 years before retiring in 1994. She then organized a nonprofit that helped children and youth in Detroit write and perform plays with positive messages.

When the State took possession of Virginia’s home, she owed $42,000 on her mortgage. MDOT paid off the balanced and provided another $20,000 toward another place to stay.

Dan Loacano, a program manager at Southwest Solutions, showed Virginia a home in the Berg-Lahser neighborhood in northwest Detroit. The home is a former foreclosed and vacant property acquired by Southwest Solutions through the National Community Stabilization Trust. Southwest Solutions renovated the home and offered it for sale through its REO programHome Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, an association of home builders and remodelers, awarded grant funds to Southwest Solutions that were used to make needed home repairs.

“As soon as I saw the home, I could see myself living there, ” Virginia said. “I also spoke to the neighbors and the mailman and learned it was a safe area with many working families who look out for each other.”

Virginia’s new home in northwest Detroit.

The home was listed for $55,000, the same price that Virginia once paid for her home in Delray. But to make the mortgage payments more affordable, Virginia needed additional financial help. Dan connected her with our HomeLIFT program, which provides $15,000 of downpayment assistance to eligible homeowners. Virginia worked with Tenai Leali, our Center for Working Families coordinator, and with our Southwest Lending Solutions to secure the HomeLIFT grant.

Virginia obtained a mortgage from Talmer Bank (now Chemical Bank). She hopes to pay it off in five years by making additional principal payments every month. Virginia has been living in the home since late last year.

“Even though it was hard to leave Delray, it was a smooth process getting into my new home, and things worked out for the best,” said Virginia.

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