New application to purchase 7404 Hanover

@AHatinger and I have been having some discussions about how we might move forward as a collective in purchasing and using the 7404 Hanover lot which is across the street from Diana and I’s house. I started an application and have been documenting answers to the questions in the Google Doc where we put together our previous application for this lot:

The current idea is to maintain the majority of the lot as a community farm/garden which also includes space open to the public such as a shade structure and/or seating. Additionally, we could build one or two A-Frame houses on the eastern side of the property, which is similar to the design we originally submitted to the city that was tentatively approved.

Based on the straw poll results, it seems there is agreement that purchasing this lot would be a good use of the funds in the DetroitDAO. It seems likely that the lot could be purchased for less than 5k.

Please let me know if you have feedback or would like to be involved in developing this application with us. The near-term goals are to:

  • Reach out to neighbors on Hanover to get their feedback/input and to give them an overview of Detroit Arcology
  • Reach out to @AHatinger’s contacts at Oakland Avenue farm to get their feedback and advice on collective ownership structures that support our mission
  • Present plan at a Block Club Meeting. I am excited to say I just heard back from Wayne who is restarting a block club for our area and he has tentatively scheduled a meeting for Sunday 4/24 which I plan on attending
  • Submit the application to purchase the lot (which includes a site plan)
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Great initiative, thanks for this work @adrian @AHatinger . I’m especially excited to hear about the block club restarting. While we have a cooperative business meeting scheduled for 4/21 on our meetup, only Kareem has RSVP’d and I’m happy to combine it with a block club meeting instead.

I’ll mention 4/24 as a potential club date to neighbors near 3731 as well. What do you think about hosting it in an open location like the 360 Degree Park and inviting George and 360 Detroit members as well? The NACA affordable mortgage folks said they would be happy to come out and give a short presentation as well for first time homebuyers interested in having homes renovated in our neighborhood, if we have a firm date and time.

I look forward to reading through the application. My two main goals in participating in any collective land venture like this is to find a way to offer investment opportunity, legal LLC ownership, and decision-making to as many neighbors as possible, and to come up with a regenerative business plan for giving a return on investment. This could include a garden membership fee if some kind, that allows members to harvest veggies and fruit from collective land, and pays for a garden director or other staff.

The DetroitDAO funds are a great start, but I’ll caution us not to consider it “free” money. I look forward to our responsibility to generate a profit for the neighborhood and to keep reinvesting it year after year.

Figma link from our original design

I had a chance to re-read the Google Docs link above and see that it’s the original one we submitted almost exactly two years ago. Wow how time flies. If we were to re-submit it, I think it would need to be re-worked to focus on the community garden, which we can conceivably prepare and build on the land by hand, and pay for with a budget of up to $5,000 from the DAO. I would leave space for the future A-frames but not build them in this plan (just my opinion).

I wrote a few comments in the Google Doc, to the effect that we need a funding plan to complete the A-frames which may take a year or more. The original funding sources mentioned in the Google Doc are not all still available.

Two possible plans if we’d like to proceed with A-frames on the land:

  1. gather funds from friends and family to build one of the 2-person homes (DUO) first, and rent it affordably or Airbnb it, saving up the funds until we can afford the 3-person home (TRIO).
  2. find two homebuyers who are going through the NACA or other mortgage process, and agree to pool together funds to build two DUOs, or a DUO and a TRIO, saving transportation and other building costs by batching the two houses together.

I think the level of effort required to be a NACA homebuyer takes work but is doable by someone who works a full-time job, and I can answer questions or speak about my experience if it’s useful at a future block club meeting or meetup.

Yesterday I completed Step 2 of NACA, and with a $1,157 / month salary and my last late credit card payment in October 2021, I need to show a history of 6 more months of reliable payment, and a savings account with a balance of $5000.

For $60,000, the approximate cost of building and furnishing a new DUO completely, over a 30 year mortgage at 4%, gives a monthly payment of $446. This is also roughly the cost of buying a single-family home from the land bank ($5,000) and bringing it up to code ($55,000), which would give more square footage and a conventional design.

I was paying $350 / month for rent, including utilities, when I first moved to Detroit, 18 months ago. A mortgage payment, which is about 33% higher, would have earned me 3.33% equity in my own house by now.

To continue on the example above, two people who apply for a mortgage together would each pay $223 / month, much less than the $350 rent I started out with.

While only 3 out of 6 members of the original DetroitDAO have the votes to spend funds from that grant, I encourage any 3 of those considering to do so to ask for feedback from a larger group of neighbors, to spell out their motivations and beliefs about why this is a good use of funds in a written proposal that others can read and comment in public (it doesn’t have to be this forum, it could be an ad in a major Detroit newspaper or a block club Facebook group), and to spend those funds so that they benefit more people than those who live in a single house.

Everyone is free to spend their time however they wish, with no expectation of reward, monetary or otherwise, other than intrinsic satisfaction of improving one’s neighborhood. At this time, I am personally only assisting in efforts that have a strong public benefit and transparency component as described above, with people who have shown a similar commitment to operating in the open, and which encourage people to be long-term planners for first-time homeownership rather than continuing to rent.

@cryptogoth So the La Salle gardens area block club restarting that Wayne is organizing (I’m not sure if it officially has a name or not) may or may not be appropriate for neighbors around 3731 to join, as he never told me specific boundaries. Block clubs are typically pretty local from my understanding. Here is more info on them in general (Block Club Program | City of Detroit). I spoke with Carolyn who lives across the street from 3731 and she said in the past there used to be an active block club (different from the one Wayne is organizing) and she would love to see one start up again. I think it would likely be a separate effort to start one in the area near 3731. However, the La Salle one that Wayne is organizing is definitely relevant for Kareem to join since he lives here. I’m for sure planning to attend it and I can report back assuming that notes from that meeting would be relevant to folks here.

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