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Hebrew Free Loan Provides Home-Improvement Loans to Young Jewish Detroit Residents

Jaemi Loeb and Craig Payst

MOVE-IN DETROIT was made possible through the generosity of philanthropist husband and wife team Peggy Daitch and Peter Remington.

As she pursued a career in academia, Jaemi Loeb, 41, and her husband, Craig Payst, 49, spent decades or so renting and moving from city to city. But when the Connecticut and North Carolina natives decided to establish roots, the couple in 2019 purchased a home in Detroit’s Bagley neighborhood. They loved the community feel and the blocks of red brick houses and the proximity to small businesses, shops and restaurants along Livernois Avenue.

Down the road, they knew their 1940s red brick colonial would need a new roof. But unfortunately, some severe storms in recent years tore off some shingles and pushed up that timeframe. That’s when they turned to Hebrew Free Loan Detroit.

“Because of grad school and our jobs, we bounced around a lot, and this was our 10th move in 12 years,” said Loeb, now a nonprofit information technology consultant. “By definition, we did not have the financial security that one might expect of people in their 40s. We had roofers come and tell us we were living on borrowed time. Our option was to keep limping along with some patches until we had enough saved or apply for a loan. So, we applied for a Hebrew Free Loan and last March, we got a whole new roof. And that was a huge relief.” 


Loeb and Payst are a small but growing part of the Jewish community making the city of Detroit their home, and HFL is supporting their homeownership with an increase in its MOVE-IN DETROIT program that will now — for the first time — lend up to $20,000 in home improvement loans to Jewish homeowners in the city aged 40 and younger.

David Contorer
David Contorer

HFL Executive Director David Contorer said more than a dozen Jewish Detroit homeowners have taken advantage of the program since its creation in 2018. They’ve used the loan to pay for home improvement projects like updating plumbing and air conditioning systems and roof, deck and porch repair. With an almost 100 percent rate of loan payoff, funds coming into the organization get loaned back into the Jewish community to additional qualified loan recipients. 

“This is the first time Hebrew Free Loan has been able to extend a loan of this size,” Contorer said. “Our donors are thrilled that Jewish young adults are moving into all different neighborhoods across the city, not to rent, not to flip a property but to make a home, a life and establish roots in the city, and we wanted to make home improvement loans available to them.” 

A Strong Detroit

MOVE-IN DETROIT was made possible through the generosity of philanthropist husband and wife team Peggy Daitch and Peter Remington. Daitch’s Detroit roots began with her great-grandfather, Rabbi Juda Levin, who is the namesake of Yeshivah Beth Yehudah in Southfield. Remington is founder and CEO of The Remington Group, founded in 1995 as a full-service consulting firm that has provided its services to nonprofit organizations throughout Detroit. Just some of the dozens of its iconic clients include the Detroit Opera House, the Charles Wright African American Museum and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Clients within the Detroit Metro Jewish community include the Zekelman Holocaust Center, B’nai B’rith International and Tamarack Camps. 

Peter Remington and Peggy Daitch
Peter Remington and Peggy Daitch

“Peter and I both feel very passionately about the Detroit community with a strong Detroit as its base,” said Daitch, of Berkeley. “I’m thrilled with the new energy in the city. Hebrew Free Loan has the smartest business model when it comes to recycling funds to make them evergreen. It has loans for lifecycle moments and occasions, and MOVE-IN-DETROIT brings the housing piece of the puzzle to the table through home improvement loans.” 

Settling into their lives in Detroit, Loeb said she and Payst, a freelance illustrator, enjoy their neighborhood’s amenities like shops and restaurants in walking distance and the strong community vibe. They belong to the Isaac Agree Downtown synagogue, where they’ve made friends with other young family congregants who live just blocks away. 

“We were looking for one affordable city with a strong Jewish community, and we kept hearing awesome things about Detroit,” Loeb said. “We were looking for a place where people work together to make things better, and Detroit has that spirit of cooperation, pride in home ownership and caring about one’s community.”  

Move-In Detroit Logo

Access the program at https://hfldetroit.org/loan-programs/personal-loans/move-in-detroit-loans/.