Why did Liberty Bank choose to work in Detroit?
We have been involved in community
development since our founding in
New Orleans in 1972. We looked at the
marketplace in Detroit, and we felt it could
use the services we provide. In 2009, we
bought a Detroit bank that had failed.
From our understanding, there were few
financial institutions at that time lending in
depressed areas of the city. We saw it as an
opportunity for us to grow, as well as to help
the community rebound.
What experience did you bring from New Orleans that you are applying in Detroit?
In New Orleans, we were devastated by
Hurricane Katrina. Eighty percent of our
customer base was literally underwater. We
didn’t know whether or when these properties
would come back. But we felt that somebody
had to lend money to allow people to begin
rehabbing homes that had been destroyed. We
became intimately involved in lending money in
a disaster area.
The similarity in Detroit is that you have
beautiful neighborhoods where there are blocks
and blocks of vacant houses that need to be
redone. So we put together a program like one
we had in New Orleans to help individuals get
a loan to buy a home, or fix up their own, even
though the appraisal might not justify it or the
comps aren't there.
What is unique about the Home Restoration program?
We are putting a program in place that will be
truly sustainable. The partnership with Chase,
because it takes care of the initial risk factors,
gives us the ability to do that.
Our program also comes with a lot of care to
make certain that people get value for the
dollars they invest in their home. We don’t
provide just financing. We offer ongoing
assistance during the rehab. We have a
construction manager who monitors the work to
make sure it is being done as proposed, for the
costs agreed. So if something goes wrong, both
the owner and the bank know right away, and
we can find a solution. I don’t think there are
other financial institutions doing this.
What value has your partnership with JPMorgan Chase provided?
more strength. We have booked more than
$40 million of community development activity
in the Detroit area, including in very depressed
neighborhoods. As a result, a lot of those areas
are beginning to rebound. By no means can we
rebuild Detroit by ourselves, but now that some
of these transactions have taken place, other
financial institutions are looking at Detroit in
a different way. And our partnership with
Chase is one of the things that’s moved it to
For more information on the Home Restoration
Program, call (313) 873-3311 or visit