Four more homes near downtown Pontiac will be completely remodeled over the next year by Grace Centers of Hope and, specifically, a team led by one longtime volunteer.
Grace Centers offers several substance use disorder programs for adults and families, focusing on long term faith-based recovery, life skills, employment and housing. Men and women who successfully graduate from the recovery program and life skills training programs are offered the chance to move into the organization’s “Little Grace Village” located off of Perry, Seneca and Fairgrove Street and Moreland Avenue.
Grace Centers of Hope dedicated its 51st house on Thursday, Sept. 26 to a newlywed couple that met on their road to recovery from substance us…
For more than 10 years, the nonprofit organization has been remodeling homes there purchased from the landbank. Over 51 families have been given the chance to become homeowners through the program. Nine of them have paid off their houses in full.
Clif Seiber, a retired civil engineer with more than 30-years of experience, is the one who oversees those projects from start to finish. From purchasing the property to demolition, construction and landscaping, Seiber directs more than 100 other volunteers working on each house.
It’s a massive undertaking each time. The homes in that neighborhood date back to the 1900s, including one nine bedroom duplex built in 1901. Seiber estimates that build, at 27 Fairgrove St., will take over a year. He purchased the property for $10 at the county land auction.
“We have to tear everything out, removing a lot of the interior walls, sometimes old gas pipes, before we build everything back up,” Seiber said. “I’ve searched across the country to see if anyone is doing anything like this, and I can’t find it anywhere. This is a unique path to homeownership.”
Seiber came on as a volunteer in 2011. He and his wife, who was a part time volunteer with the organization, were having dinner with Pastor Kent Clark, CEO of Grace Centers, and his wife. Seiber was looking for a way to become more involved with Grace Centers. Clark suggested he pitch in $100,000 to buy four homes from the nonprofit and gift them back to become houses for those who graduate from substance recovery programs.
“We bought the first two and then we bought two more, I was and still am astounded at the vision Pastor Clark has,” Seiber said. “These were all drug houses, the neighborhood had one of the highest crime rates in the city at the time. Now we own almost the whole street and it’s full of families.”
Seiber’s been offered a full time position with Grace Centers more times than he can count. He always says no, he said, because it’s something he just enjoys doing. Seiber used to build subdivisions, condos and more. The opportunity to help design the Grace neighborhood has been a fulfilling experience for him.
“It started with those first four homes and now it’s evolved into working on these homes 42-hours a week,” he said. “This doesn’t feel like a job to me, it’s just a really good fit, especially when I can see the home dedication ceremonies. Watching people who have been clean for three years become eligible for homeownership while using my particular skill set to help is just something I really enjoy.”
This summer interior and exterior renovations are slated for 93 Seneca St. and 73 Fairgrove St.. Grace Centers of Hope’s next home dedication project will be 51 Fairgrove St., purchased for $75,000 from the former owner.
The six-bedroom 73 Fairgrove St. will see its dedication ceremony this summer. It was built in 1905 and, once the remodel is finished, will house a couple and their four children.
After eight years and two settlement agreements, Pontiac’s legal battles over the Phoenix Center are officially over.
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