Cody Rouge front porch repair program helps beautify neighborhood, keep residents in homes

In the Cody Rouge neighborhood, aging, disabled, single-parent, and low-income homeowners often need help with routine repairs and maintenance to keep their homes in good condition, but simply cannot perform the work themselves or afford to hire a contractor to complete the work.

Vernice Gray, a retired homeowner in the neighborhood, found out about the program when her son attended a block club meeting in late 2018. “I was having knee problems at the time, and I didn’t go to the meeting,” she says. “But when he told me about them doing the porches, I said let’s try it.” 

Her porch was in such poor condition that she and her family could not use the front of her house at all. She has since had knee surgery, and the new hand railing and secure steps make her home more accessible. “It’s wonderful,” she says. “I can go in and out of the house now with no problems. And it looks beautiful.” 

The Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance recently received a $50,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to continue the program. 

Projects like front porch repair benefit more than just the homeowner. The repair adds to the beautification of a neighborhood and increases the property value of that home and consequently homes around it. It also helps seniors like Gray age in place.

The benefits to having her front porch repaired were immediate. “Not only does it look 1,000% better, but it’s functional for myself and for people to visit.” 

The repairs also can help increase the value, quality, and durability of homes and inspire surrounding neighbors to repair and maintain their homes. 

“The investment into each home is about $2,700 for the repair,” says Dr. Patricia Butler, who directs the program for Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance. “But, homeowners can see a property value increase of between $5,000 and $7,000.” 

Simple repair projects are on the rise as a service offered from many urban cities including Chicago and Detroit. The city of Detroit offers residents a 0% interest loan program. Community development corporations, like Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, are able to assist some homeowners through grant programs that don’t have to be repaid. 

The program began two years ago, says Kenyetta Campbell, executive director of the Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance, after the organization received a Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant to serve homeowners in a 40-block radius. 

Through that grant, CRCAA helped 11 senior citizens and disabled people gain increased access to their homes through a rebuilt front porch. 

“Our success with the program caught the attention of Quicken Loans and we got a grant from them to help even more homeowners. This time we have been able to help 30 homeowners in the same 40-block area,” Campbell says. Buoyed by the success, CRCAA plans to continue to apply for grants to expand the radius of service and help even more homeowners beautify and improve access to their property. 

Front porch repair along with other beautification projects in the neighborhood have had an impact on the stabilization of the neighborhood. “I have noticed over the last three years, people are moving back in,” says Campbell. “Housing prices are starting to increase slightly. The strong block clubs are also helping to attract resources, which is attractive to homebuyers.” 


Read more articles by Biba Adams.

Biba Adams is a regular contributor and project editor for Model D. Formally Model D's Editor at Large, she is a longtime journalist whose work is fueled by her passion for people and her native Detroit. Find her on all social channels @BibatheDiva.