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The ZIP Code Incentive: 5 Detroit firms to provide incentives to employees to live in certain neighborhoods
Jul 26 2011

Five major Detroit-based companies have announced that they will provide incentives for their employees to go home – to the right addresses.  All told, $4 million dollars in incentives/benefits may be available under the “Live Downtown” program to the 16,000 employees of the firms who purchase or rent their residences in designated neighborhoods.

The companies are:

  • Quicken Loans Inc.
  • Compuware Corp.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Strategic Staffing Solutions, L.C.
  • DTE Energy Co.

The financial incentives shake out as follows:

  • Home purchasers: a $20,000 forgivable loan
  • Existing home owners: matching funds of up to $5,000 for exterior improvements
  • New renters:  $2,500 for year-1 and $1,000 for year-2
  • Existing renters: $1,000 for a 2011 renewal

(No word on whether the Live Downtown employees will receive homeowner information or credit counseling as part of this program.)

The approved neighborhoods, with Zip Codes, are:

  • Downtown Detroit (48226)
  • Corktown (48216 and 48226)
  • Eastern Market (48207)
  • Lafayette Park (48207)
  • Midtown (48201)
  • Woodbridge (48208)

This sort of program was seen in the beginning of this year with “Live Midtown,” with a pot of about $1.2 million for employees in the adjacent Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, and Wayne State University.  Detroit is not the only or first city to see some form of employer-assisted housing.  Philadelphia’s Home-Buy-Now, for example, includes matching funds from the city and participating developers and covers a broad swath of local geography.

Here, from over 50 Detroit Zip Code areas, 5 have been specifically targeted.  The motivations for employers to undertake such as initiative have been described as the “Four Rs”:

  • Employee Recruitment
  • Employee Retention
  • Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Community Relations

Recruitment might be a bit optimistic at the moment.  Nevertheless, we could add workforce stability and reduced absence and lateness promoted by closer proximity to work.  Of course, only time will tell of the benefits these Detroit employers, their employees, and their community realize.

Paul Creasy

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