Who We Are
United Community Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing housing assistance to Detroit’s low-income residents.
Our mission is to help low-income residents stay in their homes and strengthen their communities, through representation, support, and ownership.
United Community Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing housing assistance to Detroit’s low-income residents. Since 1973, we have worked to keep people in their homes and secure affordable housing for those in need.
We believe that having a place to live is a basic human right and are passionate about preserving this right in our communities. Our services are provided to income-eligible families and individuals free of charge.
United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) was founded by a group of tenants in the Cass Corridor/Wayne State University area, who organized to save their historic apartment building from owner neglect, deterioration and blight. The core program focused on tenant organizing efforts in the corridor.
UCHC began legal representation on behalf of clients for landlord-tenant conflict resolution.
UCHC expanded its services to include counseling and relocation help for homeless families in need of suitable permanent rental housing. The housing placement work served about 1,000 people (450-500 households) annually with two HUD grants, until December 31, 2018. Those grants ended and were not renewed due to changing HUD priorities. Current placement work is limited to assisting households with a judgment to move, or if they are being displaced due to tax foreclosure or housing code violations that their landlord has failed to address.
Following changes in state tax laws in 1999, UCHC started its tax foreclosure prevention efforts to help owner and tenant occupants of properties in tax foreclosure.
UCHC added mortgage counselors and foreclosure defense attorneys to its staff, responding to the mortgage foreclosure crisis. This partnership with Michigan Legal Services (MLS) has also sought to face the challenge of predatory land contracts and has since modified that approach to include dealing with lending scams.
UCHC began working with homeowners to save properties from the October tax foreclosure auction conducted by the Wayne County Treasurer. The first year, UCHC purchased 147 homes for the (mostly homeowner) occupants of those homes in a pilot project with a small revolving loan pool of $80,000. Since then, with support from the Skillman Foundation, UWSEM, the Ford Foundation and others, UCHC has been able to provide purchase support for more than 3,000 homes.
UCHC started its Housing Defense Legal Clinic in the 36th District Court which now runs three days per week and includes an eviction diversion program twice a month. This work has since been expanded to include intervention in development projects that jeopardize the housing of low-income residents. With support from the City of Detroit, UCHC helps impacted tenants with relocation.
UCHC and Michigan Legal Services partnered with the City of Detroit to create the Right of First Refusal program by exercising the city’s option to purchase foreclosed homes back from Wayne County before auction. With support from the Quicken Loans Community Fund, UCHC purchased 80 tenant-owned homes for the occupants and sold them to the occupants for cost. Prices ranged from $2,500 to $5,500 per home plus administrative costs.
The success of the 2017 pilot program allowed for UCHC to expand the program to purchase 520 tenant-owned homes with additional support from Quicken Loans Community Fund.
UCHC implemented a repair program to address the needs of some of the 520 Make it Home properties. These repairs addressed major needs such as roofing, furnaces, plumbing and electrical issues. This program assists new homeowners who are not eligible for traditional government sponsored repair programs.
To maintain the level of quality services, UCHC was quick to make positive changes within the organization amid the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining its primary focus on assisting and advocating for the residents of Detroit in housing-related matters, UCHC moved many of its processes to an online/mobile platform to ensure its clients' needs were safely met. Serving as one of three agencies tasked with the distribution of COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA) relief funds, and as one of the primary agencies representing tenants in eviction court, UCHC experienced unprecedented growth as an agency and regarding its scope of assistance.
Since the onset of COVID in 2020, UCHC has tripled in size. The CERA relief funds allowed for a window into the obvious positive benefits of giving most — if not all — tenants the opportunity to speak with an attorney in court. This helped create the momentum needed to pass the historic Right to Counsel ordinance through Detroit City Council in November. This decade-long fight for representation became a reality with the advent of Zoom court and the breadth of available funding due to the CERA rental assistance.
UCHC has been tasked with the implementation of Right to Counsel in Detroit. With the end of the COVID moratorium on tax foreclosures, UCHC has relaunched Make It Home, a program that has been celebrated nationally as progressive and forward-thinking and touted as a shining example of homeownership creation that should be implemented across the country. Throughout all the upheaval of the pandemic, UCHC has remained steadfast in its mission to assist and advocate for renters and homeowner-occupants in the city of Detroit while maintaining that housing is a basic human right that nobody should be denied.
Robert Shimkoski Jr.
Board Vice Chair