Meet Albert, who for decades, was living in a home previously owned by his aunt but was lost to tax foreclosure because of a job loss. 

Because of financial circumstances, Albert lived without running water in the home for about two years due to a shut off. Growing up without running water prepared him for the experience. 

“I was buying water ya know, doing whatever I had to do to survive in the house. Go to other people’s houses, take showers, use rainwater, flush the toilet. I’m from down south and when I grew up we didn’t have running water. We survived so… You can survive. A lot of people might not think so but you can.”

At this time, a pilot program of United Way was finding individuals in precariously housed situations and compiling a list. Matrix Human Services was given this list of people who needed help. Eventually, Javay Coleman, Financial Empowerment Coach at Matrix Human Services, received Albert’s file. 

“So our purpose was to call them and kinda find out where they are in the process. Get them financial coaching. Help them with workforce development if possible. But the goal was to get them to a place where they can own their home.” – Javay Coleman

Albert began working with Matrix on May 24th 2019 for financial coaching to buy back the house through the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) “Occupied Buy-Back Program”. 

“(Matrix) called me for a meeting and I came in, and I met Javay and she was very instrumental in helping me do all this stuff that I needed to do… Encouraged me to do it because at that point, I was kinda like pissed and discouraged about the whole process.”

One of the qualifications of the DLBA buy-back program is that the occupant must have a history with the house, whether that means being a previous owner or tenant, having paid utilities for at least twelve months, can demonstrate they made significant improvements to the property, or a family member was the last owner on record before public-ownership. Albert met the qualifications. 

The only step left was for Albert to save $1,000 to buy the house back, a requirement of the DLBA buy-back program. Through financial coaching assistance with Matrix, Albert found a part-time job working 20 to 30 hours a week, created a budget to save the funds to purchase the home from the DLBA, and made a plan to have the water restored in his home. Matrix was also able to attain funding from United Way of Southeastern Michigan to meet Albert half-way with the payment on the house as well as fees to restore the water. 

Mr. Scott closed on his property on August 30, 2019 and finally has running water again. 

“I was stressed out. I was just worried all the time. Down in the dumps.” 

“I’m almost stress free now.” – Albert