(CBS DETROIT) – During a press conference Thursday, billionaire businessman and Philanthropist Dan Gilbert, along with his wife Jennifer, announced a half-billion-dollar investment over the next 10 years in Detroit.

“The first initiative we will be talking with this half a billion-dollar commitment will be to eliminate the scrooge of property tax debt that has hung over tens of thousands of Detroiter’s over the past several years, in some cases generations,” said Gilbert.

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Gilbert says 1/3 of Detroit homeowners find themselves underwater with property taxes partly due to penalties and interest accruing for years. To help with that burden, the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Fund established the Detroit Tax Relief Fund, which $15 or the $500 million investment will go toward.

“It’s not the properties we were most concerned about; it the people who live in them, so we went to work. Our philosophy is to treat more than the symptoms when we are facing a problem, we work to get to the root cause of the issue, and it was easily concluded that property tax foreclosure was the cause of blight and subsequent abandonment of those homes,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert says this investment leverages existing property tax assistance programs, including the (HATAP) and (PAYS), and will go to 20,000 Detroit homeowners eligible.

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There was no announcement on where the remaining funds will be invested.

For more information and to register, visit here or call 313-224-0274.

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April Morton