Monday, December 30, 2019

What is better? Term insurance or whole life?

Couple looks to the future - Photo by Tatyana Kasova/Pixabay
One of the most frequently debated questions as it relates to financial planning and personal finance is debate surrounding what type of life insurance a family should have. Everyone seems to agree that life insurance itself is a good idea. However, when the question becomes whether to go for a term policy, which is only good for a set number of years, or for a whole life or universal life insurance policy that is permanent - well, it was an age old debate when I started working for Merrill Lynch back in the 1990s. More than 25 years later, this debate still hasn’t been settled.

I'm my opinion, the entire term insurance versus whole life debate boils down to two questions that everyone has to answer for themselves. There aren’t any purely right or wrong answers in this debate; only one that is right or wrong for your own unique circumstances.

The first question related to this life insurance debate is:can you afford to buy enough coverage to protect your family with a whole life policy?

If you can afford a whole life insurance policy that provides enough coverage to protect your family adequately, great. A whole life or universal life policy might actually be a good idea for you to consider. However, if you cannot afford as much coverage as you need with a whole life policy then, in my opinion, you have to go with a term policy.

In my professional opinion as an insurance agent who blogs about his neighborhood as a passion project, it is always better to have a term life policy that gives your family the coverage and protection that you need rather than a whole life policy that doesn’t.

The second question that I believe one should ask is: what would happen to your family if you died the day after a term policy expired?

Let’s say, as an example, that you're comparing whole life police and a 30-year term one. If you are confident that 30 years and one day from now, your kids will be on their own, your mortgage will be paid off, your spouse won't need your income, and you're not going to have to get a new policy then, by all means, go with a term policy.

Take the difference between your term and whole life policies and invest it or - if you prefer - buy an even bigger boat.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, having to get a new life insurance policy 30 years from now will be a disaster in the making for you. At minimum, you will be 30 years older and that means your rates will be drastically higher.

Plus, there is also a very real possibility that your health will be worse 30 years from now than it is today. This, in turn, raises the possibility that you won’t even be able to get a new life insurance policy when your term one expires.

And there you have it, the two questions that I believe will enable every American family to decide for themselves whether a term insurance policy or a whole life one is better for them.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. The rest of the tips are are avilable here.

Please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas, Detroit

Close-up of a Christmas tree
I want to mention that this is the 14th Christmas I have had the pleasure of spending as the publisher of the Warrendale Detroit Blog. While I never thought it would happen, as I look back over the years, I realize that my readers and neighors are some of the best gifts that I could get.

This may seem corny but I'm incredibly serious when I say this. I have met some absolutely amazing people while writing for this blog. I've seen a number of challenges of the past 14 years - from the death of my father to one health scare or another as well as a series of personal and financial crises. In so many of those moments, it's been my friends and neighbors who have helped me through those challenges.

I am grateful for each and every one of you. I truly do consider your friendship to be an incredible gift. If I never had the chance to tell you in person, I want you to know that I am grateful for this gift that I have received.

Thank you. I thank each and every one of you who have gotten to know through this blog. As I prepare to move into my 15th year with the Warrendale Detroit Blog and milestone of one million views, I do so with gratitude and joy.

To each and every person in the Warrendale neighborhood and beyond, I wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope each of you gets to spend time with your friends and family this holiday season. I also pray that each of you receives a gift as wonderful as the one that I have received through your readership and support.

Merry Christmas, Detroit.

Love and laughter,
Frank P. Nemecek
Founder & Publisher of the Warrendale Detroit Blog

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Housing market to remain a seller’s market in 2020, experts predict

Key in the front door to a home - Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd/Pexels
The housing market is likely to remain a seller's market throughout the United States, according to a survey of 500 of the top real estate agents across the nation that was conducted by HomeLight. This is largely consistent with other forecasts for the local market in Detroit.

Several other experts predict a generally positive housing market forecast in Detroit for 2020. While some skeptics argue that a real estate crash is imminent, the Warrendale neighborhood and other parts of Detroit simply do not have properties that are overpriced to anywhere near the degree that are cited in their alarming predictions.

The housing market is likely to remain a seller's market throughout the United States, according to a survey of 500 of the top real estate agents across the nation that was conducted by HomeLight. This is largely consistent with other forecasts for the local market in Detroit.

There is one cautionary note in the data released yesterday. While it is still a seller's market, with demand significantly outpacing supply in many parts of the country, there is a danger in overpricing a home that is for sale. No matter how hot a market is, there is always an upper limit to what buyers are willing to pay.

Individuals who are looking to sell an existing home in 2020 still have to balance their own desire to get the highest possible price with a realistic understanding of what the real estate market will bear. This is one of the key areas where the advice of an experienced real estate agent who knows the Detroit market can be invaluable.

With a cautionary note about overpricing duly given, the overall outlook for the housing market in Detroit for 2020 is a positive one. Existing homes that are in good condition and reasonably priced should continue to sell well. Moreover, the prices that these homes are sold for should continue to climb at rates that significantly outpace inflation.

My note about existing homes being in good condition is an important additional caveat. One of the things that the recent data also showed is that, as prices continue to climb, buyers are beginning to insist on more repairs being done to the home before they take possession.

This trend at the national level continues to be seen at the local level. Homes in the Warrendale neighborhood that are in good condition continue to command top dollar. Meanwhile, existing homes that are in poor condition and need many repairs are languishing unsold for months at a time.

Again, one of the things that an experienced real estate agent can help sellers with tremendously. They can point out what repairs are most likely to be an issue for the buyer and where to best invest a home improvement budget.

This, course, is simply a summary of their 43-page report. The full forecast of the housing market for 2020 is available in its entirety here.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Disposing of perscription drugs properly - a guide for 2020

Perscription drugs - Photo by Steve Buissinne/Pixabay
It's a sad fact that one in four teens in the United States, according to data compiled by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. To make things even worse, most of these kids are getting their drugs not from shady dealer but from their own medicine cabinet.

Because of this, one of the best ways to stop perscription drug abuse is to dispose of unused, expired, or unwanted medications properly. Disposing of these drugs keeps them out of the hands of teens or anyone else who shouldn't have access to them.

As an added bonus, disposing of perscription drugs properly also prevents them from getting into the soil or water supply. When this happens, the medications that were designed to heal humans become an environmental hazard for fish and wildlife. After all, these medications were intended for humans and humans only.

All of these reasons make it incredibly important for perscription drugs to be disposed of properly.

For those readers who live in the Detroit area, Henry Ford Health Systems has a total of nine locations throughout Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties where people can drop off unused, expired, or unwanted medications. I used their service myself recently when my doctor changed one of the medications that I take; leaving me with a couple weeks of my old medicine still at home.

A complete list of these nine locations can be found on their website. Besides these Henry Ford Health Systems, one can also find several other locations where people can drop off perscription drugs in Oakland, Macomb, MonroeWashtenaw, and Wayne counties by clicking on the appropriate links. Each of these locations will ensure that the drugs are desposed of properly so they don't become a problem for someone.

Last, but not least, for those individuals who are looking to dispose of perscription drugs outside of the Detroit, many pharmacies have drop boxes nationwide where patients can dispose of them safely. One can find their nearest location by visiting this website and searching by address or by ZIP code.

With this many options for safe disposal available, I hope that we will soon see a dramatic drop in the number of teens who absue perscription drugs that they find in their own homes.

This guide to disposing of perscription drugs - updated for 2020 - is your Tip of the Week for the week of December 23, 2019.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next Monday for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to check some of our previous Tips of the Week.

Thank you for visiting the Warrendale Detroit Blog.

Closing in on one million views


I was reviewing where a lot of things in my life stood over the weekend. Most importantly of all, I was doing some planning for the coming year. It was while doing this that I discovered something that I think is rather cool.

As of this writing, the Warrendale Detroit Blog has received a total of 961,247 unique views since I started it on a whim back in December of 2005. That isn't a bad number for a blog that focuses on one particular neighborhood in one particular city.

In an era when some of the internet giants starting to think more and more about hyperlocal marketing and hyperlocal search engine optimization, a 14-year old blog about one particular is a bit of a trendsetter.

The really cool thing, in my opinion, is where this trend is likely to take this blog. Assuming my math is correct, the Warrendale Detroit Blog should see its one millionth view later this year. In fact, it should happen right around my birthday in August.

One million views.

For a little bitty hyperlocal website.

I can't help but feel that this is really cool. The fact that - with around 5,000 views per month at the moment - the Warrendale Detroit Blog should cross the one million views threshold around my birthday is icing on the proverbial cake.

I want to thank each and every one of the people who have helped and encouraged me in this project over the years. Your awesome reaches throughout the Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit and beyond.

Thank you, everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Mayor Duggan celebrates the Stategic Neighborhood Initiative


Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit recently commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Stategic Neighborhoods Initiative. This is a public-private partnership to improve some of the neighborhoods in our city, such as Warrendale.

This initiative got a large boost recently. The Ralph C. Wilson Foundation announced a $10 million grant to support the neighborhoods in Detroit. Those funds will go towards citywide development of our ten targetedneighborhoods on streetscapes, commercial corridors, and parks.

"We are improving neighborhoods in Detroit for Detroiters," Duggan commented.

They and our other corporate partners have already made an incredible impact, and it is my hope that others will join us in continuing our mission of creating a stronger Detroit for everyone.
Mayor Duggan's team posted a video of his remarks about the Stategic Neighborhoods Initiative to his Facebook page.

I have embedded this video above. I encourage everyone to take a moment to watch it.

Mayor of Taylor among those indicted

Mayor Richard Sollars of Taylor - City of Taylor photo
A 33 count indictment was unsealed this afternoon chargingMayor Richard “Rick” Sollars of Taylor, Michigan, Shady Awad, and Taylor Community Development Manager Jeffrey Baum with conspiracy to commit bribery in a scheme spanning from 2015 to 2019, United States Attorney Matthew Schneider announced.  The indictment also charges Sollars and Awad with seven counts of bribery each, and charges Sollars and Baum with 18 counts of wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Sollars helped Awad’s real estate development company Realty Transition LLC obtain scores of tax-foreclosed properties owned by the city of Taylor.  In return, Awad lavished Sollars with thousands of dollars in cash and over $30,000 in renovations to Sollars’s home, over $11,000 in renovations to Sollars’s lake house, and over $12,000 in new household appliances.  The appliances included a refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher, a $1,600 cigar humidor, a vacuum cleaner, and a clothes washer and dryer.  The free renovations provided to Sollars by Awad include hardwood floors on every level of Sollars’s Taylor residence, hardwood floors at the lake house, a garage door, a new front door, cabinets, and a refurbished lake house deck.  The Indictment also alleges that Jeffrey Baum received bribes from Awad and another developer, in exchange for Baum’s help in obtaining tax-foreclosed properties from the City.

Text messages between Sollars, Awad, and Baum cited throughout the Indictment document the bribe scheme.  In one text, Awad states as follows: “My relationship with Rick is worth $1 million so whatever it takes I’ll pay for it” in telling a contractor to do free work on Sollars’s lake house.  In another text, the Indictment states that Awad told Sollars that Sollars was Awad’s “silent partner” in Awad’s real estate development business.  Sollars, 45, is a resident of Taylor.  Awad, 39, and Baum, 44, are both residents of Allen Park, Michigan. 

The indictment also charges Sollars and Baum with 18 counts of Wire Fraud, alleging that Sollars and Baum defrauded donors to Sollars’s campaign fund in three ways.  First, Sollars would take checks from his campaign account and write them payable to a particular market, purporting to pay for catering for one of Sollars’s events.  Instead, the market owner would cash the campaign checks and give the cash back to Sollars, with no catering provided.  Second, Sollars and Baum would direct Sollars’s supporters to write checks directly to the market for events that never occurred.  Sollars would get cash and scratch-off lottery tickets from the market owner.  Third, Sollars and Baum would solicit and accept thousands of dollars in cash contributions to Sollars’s campaign.  Instead of depositing the funds into his campaign account, Sollars would simply keep the cash and use it for personal expenses.

The Indictment also seeks forfeiture of $205,993 in cash seized from Sollars’s home on February 10, 2019.

Schneider was joined in the announcement by Steven D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The unearthing of allegedly blatant corruption at the top levels of government in the City of Taylor should disturb every citizen of our state,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.  “Federal law enforcement will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute any public officials who choose their personal greed over their public oath.”

"Any time an allegation of corruption is brought to our attention, the FBI's Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force will investigate it thoroughly. Public corruption at any level undermines the community's faith in their elected officials and does long-term damage to government institutions," said SAC D'Antuono. "With that in mind, we encourage anyone who believes they have information about corruption to contact the FBI at (313) 965-4545 or tips.fbi.gov."

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dawn Ison and R. Michael Bullotta.

An indictment is only a charging document and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Rouge Park: A year in review

Rouge Park in Detroit - Photo by Frank Nemecek
2019 has brought some tremendout improvements to Rouge Park. As the year draws to a close, I want to review some of those great moment and give everyone a look into what the new year has in store for the largest park in Detroit.

 We saw the first leg of the Scout Hollow Nature Trail open this year. 2019 was also the year that:

  • Completion of the new Sorensen Historical Interpretive Trail;
  • Repairs made to the pool house at Brennan Pool;
  • New roof for the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center and their horse barn;
  • 355 volunteers came out for Rouge Park Appreciation Day. They collected 388 bags of trash, 15 tires, 16 appliances, and 135 cubic yards of invasive plants. They also planted 135 plants and improved 900 feet of trail;
  • Three separate additional work days with another 135 volunteers to improve the prairie, clean up trash and cut brush along the bike trail; and
  • Planted 25 new trees in the Sorensen Recreation Area thanks to a partnership with the Greening of Detroit.
The Friends of Rouge Park also worked with GM Cares to reclaim the Joe Prance Butterfly Gardens and Trail. This included removeing broken picnic tables and other improvements.

Jacqara Jackson joined the Friends of Rouge Park in February as their part-time project manager. She quickly jumped into organizing our annual meeting, annual cleanup, volunteer day,s and improving our communications with our first electronic newsletter and social media.

As for the coming year, we are expected to see the Sorensen Recreation Area completed in 2020 as well as a walking loop, picnic shelter, playscape, sports fields, and connection to the historical interpretive trail. Major improvements are expected at the archery range. A new splash pad, picnic shelters and a playscape are coming to the Brennan Recreation area.

The completion of new soccer fields in the Cozy Corner Recreation Area and a new large picnic shelter donated by GM.

But none of this would be possible without your support.  Please consider a donation at this time of year.  Checks can be made out to the Friends of Rouge Park and mailed to 9509 West Parkway, Detroit, MI 48239 or you can donate on our website www.rougepark.org.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Get the best workout with the right exercise clothes

Young woman working out - Photo by StockSnap/Pixabay
Exercise and working out are great. It's not so great when your clothes hinder you. Yes, a white t-shirt might do in a pinch, but ideally you should wear the best clothes for the job. According to an article from Lifehacker, your workout clothes can make a difference in how well you get into shape.

It’s crucial you consider your workout clothes just as much as the workout itself. Your clothes need to match the exercise and your body type.

Consider the following:

  • Stick with loose and comfortable clothes
  • Clothing should not impede your activity
  • When running or biking, don’t use loose pants
  • For most activities, find fabrics that wick away sweat

Workout clothes aren’t just about wearing any old rag anymore. Science, function, design and fashion are all factored into sport’s wear these days. Everything from simple guy’s workout t-shirts to women’s hoodies have been engineered to provide top performance and look stylish.

Exercise gear also acts as a lifestyle gear. Consider how multi functional your workout gear should be. Are those shoes just for the gym? Or will they be for everyday use? Can you wear that t-shirt everywhere?

Workout clothes for men should be comfortable, durable and rugged. The same goes for ladies workout gear, which should be stylish but also able to withstand the reps of any activity.

It's essential that your clothes can handle the intensity of your workouts. The last thing you want to happen is for a mishap or accident to ruin your workout, or worse, cause an injury. Injuries can be caused by improper clothing.

The wash cycle is also an important factor to consider. If you are working out a lot, your clothes will need to last. Make sure you review the washing instructions and follow them accordingly.

With these tips in mind, you will find great clothes that keep you cool, comfortable and fashionable whether you are breaking a sweat or just hanging out.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content.

Detroit-area toy company teams up with Toys for Tots


With the the holiday season in full swing, Magformers of Canton, Michigan announced its partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Designed to assist the less fortunate, Toys For Tots is a top-rated charity that distributes millions of gifts to less fortunate children every holiday season. Magformers will be participating by donating over $25,000 worth of toys through a buy one give one program available now on  Magformers.com.

“As an industry leader in magnetic building toys, we believe it is vital for children to develop through creativity. The importance of giving back and being kind is not overlooked when it comes to our mission. This partnership is the perfect opportunity to introduce children to our products and teach them lessons in STEM early on. We hope our work with Toys For Tots inspires others to pay it forward this holiday season.” says Chris Tidwell, CEO of Magformers.

The Marine Toys for Tots Program has been delivering hope to less fortunate children since 1947. The foundation helps bring the joy of Christmas to kids in a variety of ways, by delivering a message of hope, by helping kids build and restore self-esteem and by inspiring children to give back. Last year, with the help of team members, partnering businesses and volunteers the Marine Toys for Tots donated over 18.5 million toys, games, and books to over 7 million children in need.

During the partnership, Magformers will contribute over $25,000 worth of toys to the Toys For Tots foundation. Furthermore, Magformers will be participating in a buy one give one program for select products purchased on the Magformers website. The toys include products from the STEM.org authenticated plush line, Dolce and Clicformers lines. Consumers can help the cause this holiday season by purchasing top-selling Magformers products such as the Amazing Construction 70pc Set, the Dolce Mouse Backpack and many more.

Magformer’s partnership with the U.S. Marine Toys For Tots foundation will run until December 31, 2019. For more information on Magformers, Clicformers, and Dolce visit, magformers.com. To learn more about Toys For Tots and how you can donate visit toysfortots.org.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mayor Duggan holds annual meeting with Detroiters


On November 19 of this year, Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit held his annual meeting with the residents of District 7. This, of course, is the area that includes the Warrendale and adjacent neighborhoods in our city.

Thee mayor's annual meeting with residents, by the way, is required by the City Charter, Mayor Duggan is required to have a scheduled community-wide meeting with residents in each of the Detroit's seven City Council districts at least once each year.

While the City Charter does not specify a particular day or time for these meetings, Mayor Duggan has traditionally held these meetings in the fall each year since he assumed office in January 2014. He normally begins these meetings with a short presentation. After that, each and every Detroit resident is invited to ask him any question that he or she wants.

Senior members of his administration are generally present as well. This enables them to add additional details and to resolve problems that residents bring to him.

Councilman Gabe Leland, who represents District 7 on the Detroit City Council, also attended this meeting. He also spoke at it and addressed concerns raised by local residents.

Video from this meeting is embedded above.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Friends of Rouge Park are hiring an intern

River Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The nonprofit advocacy and service organization Friends of Rouge Park are looking for two qualified interns to help them organize volunteer work days in the natural areas of the park. One internship will run from January to May while the other will run from April to August. Both positions pay a stipend of $500 per month.

College students who are majoring in environmental studies, natural resources management, parks management, community engagement, or related fields are preferred.

Those wishing to apply for this position at the largest park in Detroit should ideally possess good communication skills. The group is also seeking interns who have a background in management of natural areas as well as:

  • Knowledge of invasive species and native plants;
  • Invasive species removal methods;
  • Certified pesticide applicator is preferred;
  • Experience working with a diversity of volunteers; and
  • Good computer skills including spreadsheets, social media, and website updates.
The intern should also must be comfortable contacting corporations to ask for volunteers and donations.

Duties for this internship will include assisting in the development as well as implementation of a plan for the management of the prairie, trails and natural areas in Rouge Park.  This will involve but is not limited to: prioritize projects, recruit volunteers, organize volunteer work days, train volunteers, develop core volunteers as well as corporate volunteers, develop partnerships, and solicit corporate donations and volunteers. The interns will also engage the local community in these efforts and in the park.

College students who are interested in applying should send a cover letter and resume to rougepark@gmail.com with “ATTN:  Internship” in the subject line. The deadline for applying is December 13, 2019.

Detroiter charged in child pornography case

Prison cell - Photo by Ichigo121212/Pixabay
A Detroit man was indicted yesterday on charges of production, possession and receipt of child pornography, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin announced earlier today. Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D'Antuono of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

Indicted was Wade Preston Streeter, 49 of Detroit. Streeter was arrested on November 21 on a criminal complaint and was held in custody while charges were pending in his case.

According to court records, Streeter is alleged to have sexually assaulted and covertly produced sexually graphic photographs of minor boys as well as engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the minor victims.  This alleged conduct took place both at his home in Detroit as well as on a tugboat that he owns.

The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify potential victims of Streeter, who would befriend young boys on Facebook and other social media sites and then arrange to meet them privately.

Anyone who may have been victimized by Wade Preston Streeter, or anyone who may have information about his alleged criminal behavior, is encouraged to call (313) 426-3880 or email the FBI at DetroitShipTips@fbi.gov.

The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates. Identified victims may be eligible for certain services and rights under federal and/or state law. Victims in this investigation can find information about the hearings in this case at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/united-states-v-wade-streeter-docket-19-mj-30602.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys April Russo and Barbara Lanning.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

One more Christmas miracle

Recent photo of Vivian Lemire - Family photo
As we get closer to Christmas, I become more and more of a sucker for news stories with a happy ending - especially when they involve sick children. Today, such a story comes to us all the way from Missouri, courtesy of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association

Vivian Lemire will celebrate her ninth birthday shortly before Christmas. Then on December 31 her family will ring in the New Year by remembering their post-transplant homecoming two years. These December celebrations are made possible by another family, complete strangers, who chose to donate their child’s liver and kidney during the most difficult of circumstances.

Her parents Cara and Rich Lemire are no strangers to loss nor to big gifts - especially ones that are life-saving. When they found out in 2010 they were pregnant with a daughter they would name Vivian, they were excited and anxious. Four years earlier, they lost their first child to Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease.

The condition caused their first baby’s kidneys and liver to swell and take up space the lungs needed to grow properly. Cara and Rich were completely unaware of her condition before her birth and they only had two days with their daughter, Renee, before she passed. They allowed themselves time to grieve before considering another pregnancy, but with support from their medical team they decided to try again.

“Once we were pregnant again we were thrilled,” Care explained, “but we struggled to let ourselves feel we could ‘get ready’ for her. We had walked this journey before and worried it would lead to the same heartbreaking place. Vivian’s early ultrasounds showed no sign of ARPKD and we felt encouraged about not experiencing a recurrence.”

ARPKD is a rare inherited childhood condition where the development of the kidneys and liver is abnormal. Over time either of these organs may fail. Even though ARPKD is rare, it is one of the most common kidney problems to affect young children. PKD International, a global network of patient organizations, estimates that 1 in 20,000 babies are born with this disorder. The condition often causes serious problems after birth.

At Cara’s 32-week pregnancy check, an ultrasound showed that Baby Vivian’s kidneys were enlarged with cysts and her amniotic fluid was dangerously low. The Lemires were devastated when they were told the baby also had ARPKD. “It was a crushing moment, but we were determined to give Vivian the best chance we could at survival,” Cara said.

When the baby’s heart muscles began to show signs of hypertension, the doctors determined they could not wait any longer and Vivian was delivered a few days before Christmas 2010. The baby’s lungs had some underdevelopment but she was able to breathe with minimal assistance. Vivian’s next challenge was severe hypertension and renal failure with kidneys that were estimated to be the size of adult kidneys in her tiny body.

At two weeks old, Vivian had her first kidney removed and began dialysis 24 hours a day. Four weeks later Vivian had her second kidney removed. The Lemires had to travel 40 minutes from their O’Fallon, Missouri, home to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis four days a week for Vivian’s hemodialysis. Each session was four hours long.

Vivian spent 278 days of her first year of life inpatient enduring several surgeries, battling infections and treating complications of her compromised immune system. Vivian’s medical care made it nearly impossible for both Cara and Rich to keep their full-time jobs; therefore, Rich decided to step back from his career to manage Vivian’s medical schedule of appointments, treatments, specialists, back-and-forth commutes and many more of her complicated medical demands.

Cara and Rich knew Vivian would need a dual life-saving transplant (kidney and liver) for long-term survival. At the start of 2012, while in the midst of Vivian’s hemodialysis sessions and appointments, a transplant social worker suggested Cara and Rich reach out to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association to learn more about fundraising for transplant-related expenses. On January 31st, Cara called COTA’s toll-free phone number and completed COTA’s Patient Agreement.

COTA uniquely understands that parents who care for a child or young adult before, during and after a life-saving transplant have enough to deal with, so COTA’s model shifts the responsibility for fundraising to a community team of trained volunteers. COTA is a 501(c)3 charity so all contributions to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law, and COTA funds are available for a lifetime of transplant-related expenses.

On March 8, 2012, a COTA fundraising specialist travelled to the Lemire’s hometown to train the volunteers for the COTA campaign in honor of Vivian. This group of family members and friends, quickly got to work organizing fundraisers to help with mounting transplant-related expenses. Numerous COTA fundraisers were held and the team surpassed its $60,000 goal in a short amount of time.

When Vivian was 2½, the transplant team at Cardinal Glennon officially listed her for a dual kidney and liver transplant. Cara and Rich were anxious but were excited to continue their family’s transplant journey. However the wait became lengthy and Vivian’s case became more complicated as she grew. Cara and Rich were eventually told by the Cardinal Glennon transplant team they were no longer able to perform the life-saving dual transplant Vivian needed.

“We will never forget the moment our nephrologist, whose guidance we trusted, told us if Vivian were her child, she would take her to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford,” Cara said. Soon after that recommendation, the Lemires flew to Palo Alto, California -- more than 2,000 miles away from their Missouri home. Cara says at their very first meeting ‘everything clicked.’ The Lucile Packard transplant team agreed that, when the time came for Vivian’s dual transplant, the Lemire family would need to temporarily relocate to California and start her transplant treatment plan.

In August 2017 after two years of being listed and a near match, the Lemires finally got The Call for both a kidney and liver match for Vivian in California. Cara remembers feeling like their bags were in their hands before they even hung up the phone. It was indeed the call they had been waiting for since the day Vivian was born. On August 9, 2017, Vivian received a kidney and liver transplant and her second chance at life. Cara and Rich received the greatest gift imaginable.

The dual organ transplant went well but required a longer recovery time for Vivian, which meant the family would be in California for an extended period of time. Cara took a leave from her job and the family was able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House very close to Lucile Packard. “With our home and jobs halfway across the country, COTA eased the financial burden and enabled us to be at Vivian’s side during her transplant and lengthy recovery,” they said.

On December 31st, four and a half months after her life-saving dual kidney and liver transplant, Vivian and her parents were able to return home to Missouri. It was indeed a positive way to step into the New Year and their new post-transplant life.

“Even before Vivian was born, we knew a transplant was likely in our family’s future. When it became clear the best outcome of Vivian’s transplant would be achieved at a transplant center more than 2,000 miles away from our home, we also knew we were going to need help to make everything work financially. With home and jobs halfway across the country, COTA eased the financial burden and enabled us to be at Vivian’s side before and after transplant. It is a tremendous gift to know COTA is here for our family now and will be … for a lifetime,” said Cara and Rich.

Today Vivian is enrolled in elementary school, which she loves and where she is thriving. She loves dancing, singing and participating in any type of music. Vivian is thrilled to be making new friends at school. This Christmas will likely be full of celebration and joy for the Lemires as they enjoy the holidays in their own home. Vivian is indeed a gift for Cara and Rich who went from wondering when The Call would come to now watching their beautiful daughter enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the season. They will indeed remember their special donor angel this holiday season as well.

Friday, November 29, 2019

"War on police" - rebuttal

Police car - Photo by Free Photos/Pixabay
I posted earlier this week about a Detroit police officer who was tragically killed in the line of duty approximately four miles north of the Warrendale neighborhood. My intention was simply to memorialize an individual who lost his life while heroically protecting our city. I had absolutely no intention of dragging partisan politics into this or causing any type of debate. I simply wanted to memorialize a fallen hero.

When I shared that post on Facebook, the majority of people reacted in much the way that I expected. There was shock and outrage as well as praise for the fallen officer and prayers for his family and all other police officers. This is great and pretty much what I expected when I shared my post.

However, there’s always that one guy.

One individual in particular was rather vehement in his opinion that former President Barack Obama had started a “war on police” and this was the latest example of it. This was followed by repeated usage of Blue Lives Matter hashtag and insults directed toward those who disagreed with him. When I pointed out that a thread dedicated to memorializing a fallen officer wasn’t the best place for partisan politics, he only seemed to double down on his attacks.

This prompted me to do a little bit of research. Here’s the big headline that I want everyone to remember: a carpenter in the United States today is approximately 30% more likely to be killed on the job than a police officer.

In spite of this, no one claims that there is a war going on against carpenters. There has also never been a Carpenters Lives Matter hashtag trending on Twitter or any other social media platform.

As for the numbers, there is an estimated 950,000 carpenters working in the United States, according to official statistics. On average, one out of every 10,000 carpenters died at the workplace each year. In contrast, with an estimated 850,000 police officers in the United States, there are 0.7 out of every 10,000 who die a violent death on the job each year. This translates into a carpenter being 30% more likely to die on the job than a police officer.

Oh, and the reason why I chose carpenters for this comparison is simply because my father, grandfather, and many of my uncles worked in carpentry. I’m the misfit in my family who chose to earn a living with a cell phone and a laptop.

I suspect that much of the reason for this has to do with the fact that police officers expect to encounter danger on the job. As a result, they train and prepare for it. This training and preparation helps them to mitigate the danger and bring the number of deaths down dramatically. Carpenters, in contrast, do not expect to die on the job so they don’t take anywhere near the precautions that law enforcement officers do.

But still, I cannot help but feel that if there was a war going on against police officers - regardless of whether Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, or whoever else was leading it - the result would not be that they would be less likely to be killed on the job than carpenters.

As further evidence that there isn’t a war on police that Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, or whoever else are responsible for, I would simply point out that line of duty deaths for police officers are largely unchanged with them out of office and someone who is the polar opposite replacing them.

It’s a sad fact that I will one day again have to memorialize the tragic death of another police officer or firefighter on this blog. I dread this prospect.

My only hope is that when that tragic moment comes, I won’t have to also worry about someone hijacking the issue with partisan attacks. It is much better, in my opinion, to keep the focus on the fallen hero and the grief that his or her family and friends are going through.

This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.

Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty

Officer Rasheen McClain - Photo by the Detroit Police Department
Officer Rasheen McClain was shot and killed in the line of duty last night while responding to a call on the west side. He was a 16-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the suspect who is accused of shooting McClain had a lengthy criminal history. The man in question was also described as having a death wish. Their full reporting on this story is available here.

I'm thankful that the alleged shooter is currently in police custody.

On a personal note, I would like to join my fellow Detroiters in saying that while the shock and sorrow of losing a hero like Officer McClain is powerful, I take comfort in knowing that all of the angels and saints in Heaven will join in welcoming him home today.

I pray that Saint Anne, the patroness of the city he served, brings comfort and peace to the friends and family that Officer McClain was forced to leave behind.

I pray also that the Saint Michael the Archangel and Patron Saint of Police Officers watches over, guides, and protects those who protect our city tonight.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Another attempt at regional mass transit

Commuter train - Photo by Shutterbug75/Pixabay
 Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, and Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit annoucned a plan to put a new regional mass transit plan before voters Washtenaw Counties are going to try one more time to get voters to approve a regional mass transit plan. I've been listening to plans like this since I was in high school. I'm currently a few months away from my 50th birthday.

I regard this as progress. At least we've recognized that Macomb County isn't going to be a part of it. I'm doubtful that Oakland County will approve it or - if they do - it will likely be so watered-down that it will be of minimal value.

My only hope is that regardless of whether Oakland County approves a watered-down version, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties move forward with a more comprehensive plan for their two counties.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Reconsidering AirBnB in Detroit

AirBnB, Detroit
Home - Stock photo from Pexels
For several months, the City of Detroit has been looking for ways to better regulate short-term rental housing. This includes popular options like Airbnb and Homeaway that have been achieving more and more success in our area.

Critics of short-term rentals point to negative the impact these services have on hotels, housing prices, and the community at large. A study published in the Harvard Business Review, for example, showed that as more Airbnb rentals happened in a given area, the local rent prices would increase proportionately. In some cities, that increase has made a difference in whether or not someone could afford to live there.

These rentals also have a detrimental impact on hotels in the area, as Forbes magazine pointed out. This is important because traditional lodging options pay more taxes and generate more jobs. If hotels are hurt too much, we lose the thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue that they create.

Supporters, however, point out that optins like Airbnb and Homeaway allow ordinary Detroiters to generate a few hundred dollars a month in extra income from an empty bedroom or two. That extra money can be invaluable to many families.

There is also the fact that when someone stays at a hotel by a large corporation like a Hilton or Marriott, much of the income generated from it leaves our state. In contrast, when money is spent with a small local person then, as a different study by Michigan State University pointed out, that money is more likely to be spent and reinvested locally.

Clearly, the ideal solution is to find some kind of balance that works for everyone. While I don't claim to have all of the answers, I do have a few ideas. For starters, let's talk taxes.

Taxes - Stock photo from Pexels
When someone rents a hotel room in Detroit for a night, they pay a 13% tax rate but when they rent an Airbnb for the same night, they only pay a 6% tax. The difference between the two tax rates is because, while both pay a 6% sales tax to the State of Michigan, short-term rentals do not pay either the 1% tax to Wayne County to support the stadiums nor the 6% tax to support the convention center.

This, I believe, is fundamentally unfair. There's no reason to tax one option for a night's lodging at one rate while taxing a different option at less than half that amount.

Therefore, I propose that we impose an additional 7% tax on short-term rentals in Detroit to even things out. I would further propose that most, if not all, of the revenue go towards improving mass transit. I say this because the stadiums and convention center are both doing just fine as is. Meanwhile, Detroit has what has been ranked as the worst mass transit system in the nation and could desperately use the extra revenue.

We could even add an extra 1 or 2% onto Lyft and Uber rides, while we're at it as well. This would bring them in line with the taxes that we levy on car rentals or taxi cabs. It would also generate even more revenue for mass transit.

The Detroit City Council looked into this issue in 2016; concluding that such a thing is indeed possible. We may have to put the question to a ballot referendum, much like we did with taxes for stadiums and convention center. However, I don't believe that would be a significant challenge.

Neighborhood - Stock photo by Pixabay
The next challenge is in terms of regulating how many Airbnbs can operate in the city. There was an efort by the City Council earlier this year to place a hard limit on the number of these rentals that could exist. This was intended to address the impact of these operation upon the housing market, which I mentioned earlier.

While that move was well-intended, I believe a better option would be to place on limit on the percentage of residential housing stock in a given area that may be used for such things. I believe it would be appropriate for a limit of 1 or 2% of the housing stock in any one square mile for short-term rentals.

In a place like the Warrendale neighborhood, with roughly 4,000 housing units per square mile, this would mean a limit of 40-80 homes that could be used for a short-term rental. As new housing is eventually added in, the limit would increase proportionately.

These, of course, are just a few ideas. I welcome feedback either in the comments below or by email.

This post is a part of the Warrendale Detroit Blog's Friday Focus series. The series endeavors to highlight news, events, and opinions that, in the view of this blog's publisher, don't get as much attention from the news media as they deserve.

Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

District 7 holday party announced

Christmas | Photo by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay
The District 7 team of Detroit invites everyone to celebrate the holiday season. They will host a holiday party on Thursday, December 5. It will run from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Brennan Pool House (21415 Plymouth Rd.), which is located at the northern end of Rouge Park.

All Detroiters are invited to attend this party. There is no charge for any residents to attend this holiday celebration.

The District 7 is a part of the City of Detroit’s Department of Neighborhoods. It includes the Warrendale neighborhood as well as the surrounding ones.

There is ample parking near the Brennan Pool House. It is also along the D-DOT Plymouth Rd. bus route. One can download a schedule for the Plymouth Rd. bus route from the D-DOT website.

This is the first of several holiday parties that will happen in the area. When more of these events are announced, I will post them to this blog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Friends of Rouge Park to meet this Tuesday


The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting this coming Tuesday, November 19. It will start at 7:00pm at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.).

Their agenda for that evening will include a report from Alisha Bell. She is the President of the Wayne County Commission President as well as the Commissioner for District 7, which includes the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods. There will also be an update on the master plan for the park as well as reports from:

  • City of Detroit;
  • Detroit Outdoors;
  • Elite Archery;
  • Buffalo Soldiers; and
  • Motor City Mountain Biking Association.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Will Detroit be able to sweep this street?

DPW says they're going to sweep this - Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to the signs that are posted from one end of Ashton Ave. to the other in Warrendale, the City of Detroit's Department of Public Works is supposed to sweep the streets today. I mean, that is what the signs say.

Personally, I wonder if they're going to be able to do it. What do you think?

I mean, maybe if they got the sweepers really, really hot or something.

Update at 8:07 p.m.
The "no parking" signs are now gone. The street, however, has not been swept.

I'm totally shocked.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Job readiness workshop to be held tomorrow in Detroit

Training workshop - Illustration by Mohammed Hasan on Pixabay
The City of Detroit will host a job readiness workshop to better prepare unemployed and underemployed residents for the career that they desire. This important event will begin tomorrow, November 12 at 6 p.m. and will run until 7:30 p.m. that evening. This will happen in the St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center (19321 West Chicago), which is approximately one mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

One of the things that this workshop will discuss is the Detroit at Work program. That’s a program that provides job training and job placement assistance to Detroiters. It focuses on growing sectors such as construction, healthcare, hospitality and retail, information technology, and manufacturing.

They will also talk about financial education for Detroiters. Finally, during this workshop they will  provide advice on two other important details that are essential for getting the job you want. This is advice on how to interview for the job you want and how to dress for that job interview.

The Detroit at Work program currently has 7,249 job available in our area. More job opportunities are added all the time.

There is no charge to attend this workshop tomorrow. However, those wishing to attend are asked to RSPV by either calling Eric Fowlkes at (313) 236-3516 or emailing fowlkese [at] detroitmi [dot] gov. His email address, of course, is presented in a way that humans should be able to understand but that spam robots should find difficult.

The job readiness workshop is presented by the City of Detroit and Huntington Bank.

Help is here to get your finances in order

Getting a hand up - Photo by Tumisu on Pixabay
If you look at the statistics, it's clear that most Americans are a financial mess. The typical American family today has too much debt, not enough savings, no financial plan, no life insurance, and is basically one hardship away from financial ruin. The one ray of hope in this is that, for Detroiters at least, the Financial Empowerment Center is here to help.

The Financial Empowerment Center offers professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free service to Detroiters. They enable residents to address their financial challenges and plan for their futures. The FEC is a partnership between the City of Detroit, the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.

Residents receive free, one-on-one professional counseling assistance with their finances.The FEC's professional counselors can help Detroiters take control of their debt as well as:

  • Deal with debt collectors;
  • Improve your credit;
  • Build your savings;
  • Create a budget and create a plan to stick to it; and
  • Find safe and affordable financial products.

These professionally trained counselors support their clients in navigating complex financial challenges and choices. They help Detroiters identify and meet present challenges and future ambitions. Counseling services are integrated into other social services including housing and foreclosure prevention services, workforce development, prisoner reentry, and benefits access.

All of their counseling services, including credit report analysis, are availabel free of charge. There are no income limits or residency requirements. Interpreting and translation services are available upon request.

Detroiters are invited to schedule an appointment with a FEC counselor by calling (313) 322-6222. Appointments are available at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office (400 Monroe St.) downtown or at Wayne Metro Lakeshore (7310 Woodward Ave.), in the New Center area.

The Detroit Financial Empowerment Center is funded by the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, JPMorgan Chase, Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, and the Skillman Foundation.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content.

Review - Killng Quarry

Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins - Cover art by Paul Mann
Who put Quarry in the crosshairs?

That’s the question that drives Killing Quarry by the bestselling author of Road To Perdition, Max Allan Collins. It hits bookstores tomorrow but I got a chance to take a look at it ahead of time.

The titular character Quarry is a Marine sniper turned hitman. He has spent the past decade killing for money; first for an agent known only as The Broker and now as a freelance hitman. His one redeeming quality is that he has always been on the right side of those contract kills.

All of this changes while he is on an assignment. Someone tries to kill him. Quarry needs to find out who and why fast.

One of the things that I find to be very impressive about Killing Quarry is how Collins managed a very successful balancing act. This is his 16th Quarry novel, which means that his character has a lot of backstory already built up.

In this installment, Collins was able to remain consistent with the legacy yet not get so caught up in it that readers who never read any of the previous installment could still understand and enjoy his story. He carefully drops enough details about the character in the first couple of chapters that a first-timer could feel caught up yet not so many details that returning readers feel weighed down.

“The Quarry books are some of our most popular and been too long since readers have had the pleasure of a new one,” explained Charles Ardai who founded and edits Hard Case Crime, which publishes the Quarry novels. “We’re thrilled to bring this classic antihero back to put him through the wringer like he’s never been before.”

One other thing that I liked about this book is the way Collins handled turning the proverbial tables on his main character. It felt authentic and engaging. In my experience, very few novelists can maintain that sense of authenticity and engagement after this many stories. Even Ian Fleming only managed to hold it together for 12 James Bond novels and two collections of short stories.

For all of those reasons, I’m proud to recommend Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins.

Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com by clicking here or on the graphic below. It is also available at fine bookstores everywhere.


The Warrendale Detroit Blog is proud to offer occassional reviews of books that we enjoy.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Community-wide meeting this Wednesday

An avenue - Photo by Peter H./Pixabay
Over the past nine months, residents and community  groups throughout Warrendale have come together and worked with the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. They are going to propose a series of projects for the built environment of this neighborhood. This includes improvements to our streets, our houses, our parks, our businesses, and more.


After all of this work, it’s time for everyone to come out and see what these groups have come up with. The City of Detroit and others are eager to get feedback on everyone who lives or works in Warrendale. This is an essential part of building a community.

To that end, there will be a community-wide meeting this Wednesday, November 13 at the Dick & Sandy Dausch Campus NFL/YET of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan (16500 Tireman Ave.). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Presentations will start at 6 p.m.

In addition, childcare will be provided on site for this meeting. If you have young ones that won’t sit through a presentation and you don’t have someone else to watch them, those facts should not be an excuse for not participating. Your voice is an important part of this meeting and that’s why there will be someone there to watch young kids while the adults talk about the future of our neighborhood.

Refreshments will also be provided for those attending this meeting.

Parking is available for this meeting in the lot at the Boys & Girls Club. If that lot fills up, additional parking will be available at the O’Live Church of God in Christ (16601 Tireman Ave.). The church is basically across the street from where this meeting will happen.

There is no cost or commitment for anyone to attend. I hope to see a lot of my neighbors in attendance this coming Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Detroit is the worst city in the USA for veterans

Veterans | Illustration by tammyatWTI/Pixabay
Dear Detroit,

We need to talk.

Veteran’s Day will be upon us soon. I know this because I’ve already gotten announcements from a few different restaurants announcing specials for active and former members of the military. It won’t be much long until a series of talking heads fill our television screen talking about the debt that we owe veterans and how great our country is because of them.

That’s nice and all. But here’s the thing: Detroit was just named the worst city in the United States for veterans. At first, I thought this was just another case of some media outlet back Detroit. Again.

But this time, they brought receipts. Out of the 100 largest cities in America, Detroit ranks 83rd in the percentage of homeless veterans. We also come in at:

Those are four very big categories that show we are failing the veterans that we are calling heroes. Oh, and, by the way, it gets worse.

This the third time that Detroit has held this dubious distinction. WXYZ-TV reported on it in 2018. The Metro Times reported on this 2017. This now makes three years in a row when we have been the worst city in the United States for veterans. None of the issues addressed in either of the previous years.

Another one of these lists will come out again next year. I would really like it if Detroit was not the worst city for veterans a fourth year in a row.

Can we as Detroiters all agree on that as a goal?

Whether it’s a love for our veterans, outright anger at this problem going on for so long, or just not wanting to be the target of another one of these lists – whatever motivates to get involved; that works for me.

What can you do? I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure that anyone of these eight veterans service organizations in Detroit will have an idea about what you can do to help if you reach out to them. If anyone else has an idea, please leave it in the comments below.

We need to do better, Detroit.

Monday, November 04, 2019

10 Tips for funding a major housing repair

Home repairs in progress - Photo courtesty of Pexels
Once you reach a certain stage in your life, you begin to plan for contingencies. In your early 20s, while you are finishing a degree or starting a career, you often live paycheck to paycheck. As you grow older and build savings, earn some credit and start a family, your financial responsibility starts to grow, too -- especially once you purchase a home.

For homeowners, keeping your property healthy will be one of your top priorities. Not only is your house your family’s haven, but it’s also an investment you want to protect. Staying on top of major and minor repairs can help you stay both comfortable and secure in your investment — but it can also be costly.

Many Detroit home owners qualify for an interest-free loan to cover the cost of repairing their home provided that they meet certain income requirements or live in qualified areas of the city. Warrendale is one of those qualified area so residents of our neighborhood are eligible regardless of their income. To get the process started, homeowners need to fill out this information packet.

For those who don't live within the Detroit city limits, here are some ways to help you plan so home repairs don’t cause an unexpected blow to your savings.

  1. Start saving early and add to it often. Even if you can’t put much into savings, commit to some amount every pay period. Over time, as your salary increases or your spending habits level out, begin adding more.
  2. Take time researching the right contractors. If you know in advance who to hire, you’ll be better able to budget for major home repairs. Ask neighbors and friends for recommendations; they are more reliable than online reviews.
  3. Know what your home insurance policy covers and your deductible. Keep track of your receipts and purchases in case you need to make a claim to help with a repair. Be sure your savings account always has enough to cover the deductible.
  4. Look into taking a cash out refinance to help pay for the costs of emergency repairs. A cash for remodel option allows you to use your home equity by replacing your current mortgage with a higher-balance loan, providing you with the difference between the two to use toward repairs and improvements, like replacing a roof or installing a new HVAC unit.
  5. Tackle easy, DIY projects on your own. Minor repairs like a squeaky floorboard or a loose railing can often be fixed quickly and with simple tools. If you need instruction, there are hundreds of high quality online tutorial videos to follow.
  6. Research home loans and grants that could be available to you. If you are a veteran or are making a modification to accommodate a disability, you may be able to apply for grants or loans with a lower percentage rate.
  7. Stay on top of upkeep and maintenance. It’s easier to keep your hardwood from getting scuffed than to refinish your floors. Focus on keeping your home’s elements in top shape.
  8. Share your space. You can make extra money by renting out an extra bedroom or guest house on a site like Airbnb and VRBO. Put this side income back into your home by funding repair projects and improvements.
  9. Get warranties to cover maintenance, upkeep and damage over the years, especially on big ticket items like roofing, plumbing and appliances. 
  10. Pay off your debt. Setting a budget and working on a plan to pay off your debt will free up your income for home improvement projects. For example, some people have had success paying off credit cards quickly by transferring a balance to a card that offers 0% APR. That way you don’t wind up spending the majority of your payments in interest.

Homeowners spend an average of 1-4% of their home’s value annually on repairs. While you can’t always be prepared for every kind of repair, having a financial safety net in place will help make paying for these situations much easier.

Rarely is it one solution, but a combination of two or more can help keep repair costs manageable. Home improvement projects can make your home more appealing and enjoyable, both as a place to live and an investment to rely on.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content.