While west Michigan is a place of profound natural beauty, it’s also a place that takes the brunt of some of the Great Lakes State’s most unpredictable – and harsh – weather patterns. From severe winds to lake-effect snow, this region sustains Mother Nature’s wrath year-round, leaving many people – including those in underserved rural communities – in need of critical home repairs exposed to the danger of the elements. That’s why, in an expansion of its longstanding partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan (HFHM), the DTE Foundation awarded a $110,000 grant to support HFHM’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Safe at Home Program.

This funding will be used to help families in need across west and northern Michigan make critical home repairs to protect them from Michigan’s harsh elements throughout the winter and beyond. All funds will be dedicated to supporting Michiganders in rural locales. The grant is expected to serve up to 40 rural households with health and safety repairs through late June.

“At the DTE Energy Foundation, we know safe, secure homes are the pillars of stable communities, and as many Michiganders struggle to make ends meet in the wake of the pandemic, critical repairs that promote safety and well-being for families are simply not affordable for many,” said Lynette Dowler, vice president of public affairs, DTE Energy, and president, DTE Foundation. “We’re humbled and grateful to continue our partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, and through our $110,000 commitment to funding critical home repairs for our neighbors in rural Michigan, help ensure homes are safe and comfortable places to live, work and learn throughout the winter and the duration of the pandemic.” 

Previous DTE Foundation funding sponsored HFHM subject matter expert and leadership training, coaching, and mentorship opportunities statewide. HFHM sustainable housing leaders have received awards from Habitat for Humanity International, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards, and others. The leaders also serve as subject matter experts for many other housing organizations.

“For many years, the DTE Foundation has helped us stay at the forefront of sustainable building, prioritizing health, safety, and energy efficiency,” said Sandy Pearson, president and CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Michigan. “We now have a heightened awareness of just how important having stable housing can be, and the negative impacts that are felt when your job, health, and housing are all in jeopardy. This grant opportunity will make sure that families most deeply impacted by the pandemic have safe, secure, healthy homes in which to shelter in place.” 

This is the eighth year the DTE Foundation has partnered with HFHM. In addition to financial support from the DTE Foundation, DTE Energy volunteers spent 1,041 hours volunteering with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout Michigan in 2019 alone.

“The coronavirus pandemic has a disproportionate effect on low-income households,” said Thom Phillips, Sustainable Housing Director for HFHM. “High job loss rates along with homeschooling and social distancing mandates compel families to spend more time inside their homes. Poor conditions in low-income housing are often associated with illnesses and injuries, while the high-cost burden of housing makes repairs unaffordable. With DTE Foundation’s support, many low-income Michigan families will receive health & safety repairs and upgrades at costs they can afford.”