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“This House Has Literally Changed My Life!”

“I live in the most awesome neighborhood in the world. I am blessed and fortunate to have a DREAM artist residency on this street. This house has literally changed my life. It’s given me a haven for my children and a place to call home during the pandemic.”

That was how our neighbor and artist-in-residence Tasneem Maryum happily described being in our community for an incredible Michigan Radio (NPR) segment that you have to hear:

From festivals to weddings to Eid celebrations and community memorials, Sister Tasneem’s photography has captured so many moments of true Detroit history. It was an honor having her join the neighborhood as the first artist-in-residence at Indus Detroit. And now, we’re happy she’ll be staying our neighbor—she’ll be moving into a renovated home just around the corner.

This story is only possible because of the community land trust we’re establishing to create permanent affordability in our neighborhood. The work to get here has been powered by this community and so we’re asking for your help again. Can you chip in to this emergency LaunchGood campaign so we can add the next renovated home to our land trust?

 

Over the years, our neighborhood has been ravished by foreclosures and bad appraisals. As our partner Eric Williams from the Detroit Justice Center shared in the radio segment, “People who are renting a home on a community land trust or who are leasing the land there, are much less likely to go into foreclosure than people residing in other circumstances.” That’s why this is timely and critical.

In the interview, our executive director Mark Crain is quoted critiquing speculators who hold onto property in Detroit neighborhoods and says, “We think there’s a big return now.” For DREAM, that return isn’t necessarily financial, it’s helping more people like Sr. Tasneem call our neighborhood home.

 

We’re preparing this home for the most lovely new yelder (young elder) couple you’ll meet this year. If we can raise $100,000 , we can have this home move-in ready for them by December, God-willing. Can you chip in to help this family AND our Community Land Trust? 

 

We’re building a model that provides homes for families, stabilizes our housing and raises its values, while locking in permanent, affordable housing to protect our neighborhood from gentrification. Even as we’re scaling this work, we’re also doing this house by house—with the help of our community.

Whether it’s to keep a gem like Sister Tasneem in our neighborhood or helping a new couple start life together close to their mosque and community center, our community’s support is what makes this work and service possible. Today, we’re asking for your help again.

 

Please donate today and share this page to help another family, our land trust, and our campaign get off to strong starts.

Peace & Blessings,
The Dream of Detroit Team

P.S. The NPR interview also touched on the ongoing mortgage crisis for Black Detroiters, with Crain saying, “What we’re seeing is that they are predominantly going to white folks.” Here, we were referencing Detroit Future City data that indicates 27% of Black applicants are denied mortgages in the city today, compared to just 13% of whites. Upper-income Black applicants are actually rejected at a higher rate than moderate-income white applicants, 23% to 20%. Under these circumstances, our work for housing equity and justice are absolute necessities.

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$600M Stolen

DREAM’s involvement in the Coalition to End Unconstitutional Tax Foreclosures represents some of our most important work. With the help of the Almighty and so many of you, we’ve rehabbed 10 homes in our neighborhood. But, unfortunately, we know that without helping to solve the root causes of Detroit’s neighborhood decline, our work will have a limited impact.

Shamefully, Detroit residents were robbed of $600M over the course of a decade after the Great Recession according to new reporting. By overassessing the value of people’s homes, city administrators overtaxed residents and drove thousands who couldn’t pay the inflated costs into foreclosures. Many of those homes then decayed beyond repair—leaving blighted and dangerous structures throughout the city—or were sold to investors who have shown little commitment to the city or its people.

In the last 10 days, this problem has gotten renewed attention in local media after a groundbreaking radio segment and a special report from The Detroit NewsCheck out the segments below to learn more about the extent of this problem.

If you want to get involved in our efforts with the Coalition, please email organizing@dreamofdetroit.org.

As Bernadette Atuahene, leader of the Coalition, said to The Detroit News, “There is no oops. We need compensation.”

Peace & Blessings,

The Dream of Detroit Team

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This Past Week Was Busy!

This past week was busy!

The highlight had to be Wednesday’s meeting with Mayor Duggan at our office. We helped start the Longfellow Block Club to strengthen our ties to long-time residents in the neighborhood, but it’s quickly become a leading block club in the city. That’s why when the mayor’s team was looking for residents for him to speak with this week, they reached out to our block club president, and she in turn reached out to DREAM.

The mayor heard our concerns about access to skilled contractors, about jobs in the city, about vacant homes being unboarded by city contractors, inconsistent service delivery on things like garbage and recycling, and more.

For some issues, he had answers, and for others, he simply heard our ideas. It was a productive meeting, and it was good to know the mayor remembered our work. Mayor Duggan remarked, “I remember being at the Muslim Center a few years ago when this vision was being shared. Now, to see what you’ve done…” 

The week actually started off with an exciting graduation ceremony at the Muslim Center for our 6th cohort of the ProsperUS Detroit Entrepreneur Training Program. This class included our 50th graduate!

And we ended the week completing more of our fence design right outside the Muslim Center.

Peace & blessings,

The Dream of Detroit Team

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Youth Clean Up Day & Grand Opening!

It’s been a big two weeks in our neighborhood! Summer’s off to an exciting start and we wanted to make sure that, in case you missed any of it, you at least got to see some photos and video.

In less than 10 days, we’ve hosted a youth clean up day in partnership with ACCESS‘s National Arab American Service Day, an anti-violence rally with Chill Don’t Kill through our work with the LIVE FREE Detroit Coalition, and celebrated the opening of Indus Detroit, a new artist residency that just launched in our neighborhood with the debut of the Halal Metropolis Exhibit.

Highlights from Youth Clean Up Day

Nearly 200 volunteers came out for our youth clean up day in partnership with ACCESS’s National Arab American Service Day. We also heard remarks from U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and MI State Rep. LaTanya Garrett. Check out our group photo on the left and click right to hear the welcoming remarks from our project director, Mark Crain. You can also see more photos here.

 

   Halal Metropolis Exhibit at Indus Detroit

Indus Detroit, the long-awaited artist residency, has finally opened in our neighborhood and it started with a big debut on Friday night. The Halal Metropolis exhibit, chronicling the lives and presence of Muslims in public spaces throughout Southeast Michigan, opened up to a wonderful crowd and included a performance from Lu Fuki & Tazeen. The exhibit will run through the end of July, so be sure to get out and see it. See more photos here

 

Chill Don’t Kill Rally

We partnered with FORCE Detroit, a local initiative of the national Faith in Action network, to support last weekend’s anti-violence rally in our neighborhoods. People from throughout the area came out to hear some dynamic speakers.

We’re trying to rebuild a community and revitalize a neighborhood. Engaging volunteers in beautification efforts, facilitating space for creative expression, and challenging the acts of neighborhood violence, and outsized narratives that often accompany them, is all a part of that work. Thanks for continuing to support and be involved.

Peace & Blessings,

The Dream of Detroit Team

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Did You Catch the Detroit News Earlier this Week?

Did you catch the Detroit News earlier this week?

They ran a story about some special news: Islamic Relief USA granted DREAM $25K to support our LightWalk and Park!

We’ll be transforming an alley that leads right to our neighborhood mosque and community center into a beautiful, well-lit, walking path.

Gifts like this go a long way, especially for special projects like our LightWalk, and we’re incredibly grateful to Islamic Relief USA for their support.

Peace & Blessings,

The Dream of Detroit Team

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Our Project Homecoming Transitional House Has Hit its Goal!

 

We’re excited to share that, thanks to the Most High, the crowdfunding campaign for our Project Homecoming transitional house has hit its goal! Soon, we’ll be underway with the rehab for this welcoming place to call home for returning citizens.

DREAM is striving to rehabilitate more than just homes—we want to rehabilitate our entire neighborhood. That means being in and working with communities hurt by institutional racism, poverty, and the violence of the prison industrial complex.

Helping brothers come home to a more stable and rewarding life and maintain the transformation and redemption they’ve undergone is some of the most important work we can do—and we can only do it with community support.

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Project Homecoming – A Letter from Imam Mika’il

I’ve had the honor of serving the Detroit Muslim community for more than half of my life—first under the leadership of the late Imam Luqman Abdullah, later as the imam of Masjid al Aqabah, and as the Assistant Director at al-Ikhlas Training Academy, Detroit’s only K-12 Islamic school.

These roles have given me a broad and holistic view of our community. And I can tell you from that experience that Project Homecoming, DREAM’s new transitional house project, could be a gamechanger for us.

That’s why, as these blessed days of Ramadan wind down, I’m writing to ask for your support.

When I was at Masjid al Haqq on Detroit’s Westside, we had a strong outreach program to local Muslim inmates. And brothers knew that when they got out, they could come to the masjid for refuge—for a place to stay and to find brotherhood.

There was no judgment—our imam believed in total redemption and reconciliation. That’s the spirit we can offer brothers with Project Homecoming as well. But what’s more is that we can provide a path for these brothers to become forces for good in their community.

Personally, I’ve seen it happen before. At Masjid al Aqabah, we operated a neighborhood patrol that, among other things, kept a sense of peace at night and secured the early morning school routes for children.

You can’t tell me that these guys don’t love community or that they’re not going to protect people with their lives. Because they come from another reality, where that was never a problem. They’ve protected things that were worth less with their lives. Many times, brothers see an opportunity to serve in this way as part of their path to redemption.

A project like this is worth investing in because it can have a truly transformative effect—on individual lives and the community as a whole.

So many brothers falter as the leave the prison system and realize that Muslim communities out here don’t quite function the same way they do inside. That reliance on prison culture impacts their ability to be truly free.

I believe that our job is to be organized, to systematically and compassionately integrate these brothers into our community, and to lend a hand in helping them thrive.

We appreciate you being a part of this critical work. On behalf of DREAM, thank you for your support. May the Most High accept all our good deeds this month and always.

-Imam Mika’il Stewart-Saadiq

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My Sentence Started with 2 Charges of Armed Robbery—But it Ended with Somebody Committed to Reforming Himself

My prison sentence started with two charges of armed robbery—but it ended with somebody committed to reforming himself.

I was guided to this way of life in 1987 and I’ve been on a journey ever since. A journey that’s taken me through various Shia and Sunni communities, including the community of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, through multiple prisons, and through the traditional beliefs and practices taught by the Tayba Foundation. Just as it has for thousands of other incarcerated students, Tayba helped me grow in my education and in my moral foundation. Helping students with successful reentry is the next step.

That’s why I’m excited to be a part of the Project Homecoming transitional house with Tayba and DREAM, and why I’m asking you to consider donating today.

Along my journey I learned to speak, read, and write Arabic—but in prison, getting access to Arabic-language resources on Islam is nearly impossible. All across the country, prison staff are known to discriminate against Muslim inmates. And that discrimination turns into policy.

It means no books to learn and teach the deen. It means no halal food in the cafeteria (I can’t tell you how many years I lived on peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles). It means that a lot of us are left unguided.

And what’s worse, is that if and when we’re finally able to come home, a lot of us are also left unsupported. You might face condemnation from your family. Often times, you won’t find any place to stay. By the grace of God, a local imam allowed me to start serving at his masjid and provided me a room. Had it not been for him, I would have been homeless. But I was blessed, because that’s not something that can work for everyone.

So even if you reach the point of learning to focus on the internal struggle of improving yourself, you have to face the hardest external struggles just to get by.

Having studied with Tayba while incarcerated, and having seen Dream of Detroit’s work in the community, I’m committed to Project Homecoming. That’s why I signed up to be the first house manager, to share whatever I’ve learned to help brothers get back on their feet.

I hope you’ll make a donation today so that we can be sure the Project Homecoming house can open up this year—that we can finish the house rehab and get started with the important work of welcoming brothers home.

I can’t tell you how crucial it is to be in a safe, drug and alcohol-free environment. To have help getting your essentials like a license and health care. And to be surrounded by other brothers all encouraging each other down a positive path. For some brothers, this could be their one shot at survival.

With the help of the Most Gracious, we’re going to make this work. And in the years ahead, God-willing, hundreds of brothers will successfully pass through our house. Meaning that today’s donations from supporters like you could change lives for years to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. May God bless you in these final days of Ramadan.

-Abdul Bari

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We’ve Come Together With the Tayba Foundation to Launch Project Homecoming, a New Transitional House!

Islam in the U.S. is often associated with stories of redemption and renewal, of repentance and merciful second beginnings.

Since the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of people battling incarceration have found the life-giving message of Islam as their path toward a better future. But many of those same individuals have found it difficult to maintain their faith and practice once dumped back into the challenges of everyday living.

We believe that if we can, together, provide a safe home—with opportunities for continued Islamic education, life skills training, job development and more—we can ease the transition for brothers returning home from prison and increase the likelihood that they’ll never go back.

That’s why we’ve come together with the Tayba Foundation to launch Project Homecoming, a new transitional house!

 

Metro Detroit has more than 5,000 Muslim inmates in jails and prisons, but very limited infrastructure or resources to support these brothers and sisters as they rejoin society.

Without a positive support structure, many are forced to return to fitnah-filled environments, face a high rate of recidivism, relapse into poor decisions, and return to the prison industrial complex (or worse, lose faith).

Cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Flint have made progress in setting up infrastructure for Muslim parolees. This project is the next step in setting up a similar support system in Metro Detroit: a safe home operated by DREAM, close to the Muslim Center mosque and community center, with counseling and health services from the local, Muslim-run HUDA Clinic, along with economic assistance (from zakat), and other resources.

Perhaps most importantly, the home will be supported by programs in Islamic education, life skills, and specialized re-entry assistance provided by the Tayba Foundation, an institute that’s been serving Muslims impacted by incarceration for a decade.

We can’t stress how important this project is for the Muslim community in Detroit. Ever since we began rehabbing homes here on the Westside, brothers have asked for a resource and an opportunity like this.

“How many Malcolm X’s remain in prison as Detroit Reds, unable to escape the vicious cycle of the prison industrial complex because their Muslim community is not ready to help them reach their potential on the outside?”

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"The true life that God wants for all people—not one people—their true life is a life of cooperation… community life!"
- Imam W.D. Mohammed