Small-Dollar Mortgages: The Role of Small-Dollar Mortgages in Detroit’s Housing Market

Report by Kendall Nash
October 17, 2023

Data Driven Detroit (D3)   (Detroit)

In collaboration with Data Driven Detroit, Detroit Future City (DFC) released this report that examines the role of small-dollar mortgages in Detroit’s housing market, explains what factors influence the availability and demand for small-dollar mortgages, profiles the dynamics of small-dollar mortgages in three different Detroit neighborhoods, and provides recommendations for increasing small-dollar lending in Detroit for Black homebuyers. DFC developed this report as part of its mission to rebuild Detroit’s Black Middle Class, acknowledging that homeownership is a critical component to creating generation wealth.

  • A few key takeaways from the report include: In the combined years of 2020 and 2021, there were 26,286 total transactions, of which only 4,959 (19%) were financed using a mortgage. Out of those 4,959 mortgages, only 35% would be categorized as small-dollar mortgages.
  • In 2020 and 2021, Detroit recorded 9,450 mortgage applications, of which only 3,697 (39%) were in the $30,000–$100,000 range. Ultimately, only 47% of these small-dollar mortgages were originated.
  • Quality housing stock is limited in the $30,000-$100,000 price range and the cost of repair is usually staggering. This decreases demand for these homes and minimizes homebuyers’ ability to obtain mortgages and build equity through homeownership.
  • Providing funding to Community Development Organizations for home repair, along with supporting nonprofit lenders, CDFIs, and credit unions which have more accessible loan products, is critical Concurrently, investments need to be made in neighborhoods to increase home values and improve housing stock.


The report is a publication of DFC’s Center for Equity, Engagement and Research, produced in partnership with Data Driven Detroit, and funded by Black Wealth Data Center, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies' Greenwood Initiative.

Data Driven Detroit produced an online tool that can be used to interact with data. Click the link here.

Publisher Info:

Detroit Future City