May 7, 2019

Actor Hill Harper Vows to Buy Land Bank Houses for Detroit Teens, On One Condition

Whether you know him from his streak of critically acclaimed, 90’s era films including Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus (1996), Hav Plenty (1997), Beloved (1998), and He Got Game (1998) – or from his television roles in hit series like CBS crime drama CSI: NY, Covert Affairs and ABC’s The Good Doctor – Hill Harper’s cultural impact goes far beyond film, television, and stage.

Photo: IMDb

When it comes to demonstrating love for his community, the Ivy League-educated, New York Times bestselling author invests big!

Like a modern day, urban Moses, the social entrepreneur and Detroit resident has set his sights on leading Detroiters to the promised land through home ownership. How does Harper plan to drive this movement? Through credit restoration and land bank investments.

Land Bank Investments:

With the prevalence of land bank properties across the city, Detroit residents are uniquely positioned to build generational wealth through home ownership. In response to the recent mortgage crisis, Detroit -like many cities, implemented land banks to seek buyers for abandoned or foreclosed properties throughout the city.

Photo: NPR/ Jason Margolis

Properties, which under previous policies, would have taken years to acquire, can now be purchased at low costs through the land bank. Harper sees this as a huge opportunity for residents to build generational wealth.

Credit Restoration:

“Building a strong credit score is the first step in gaining access to lower rates on home loans for land bank properties,” Harper said. “Access to credit is a big piece of being financially healthy.”

Helping future Detroit home owners to restore their credit is exactly what Harper aims to do as part of a new venture with Experian national credit bureau.  

Graphic: Urban Content Studios/Devon Williams

These were the two major themes Harper covered as a panelist for Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan‘s (BGCSM) “Buy Back the Block” event held at their Dauch Campus on Friday, May 3rd.

Buy Back the Block:

Moderated by BGCSM President & CEO, Shawn H. Wilson and co-featuring commercial & residential real estate development expert Derrick Scott, CEO of East Jefferson Development Corporation, the “Buy Back the Block” event equipped Club members and neighborhood residents with the advice, motivation, and practical tools needed to invest in the resurgence of their city.

In the span of his talk, Harper gave an unprecedented charge to a group of sixteen Detroit teens. “You each have an assignment to identify a property that is coming up for land bank auction,” he said. “(If you can) present me with a plan of how you’ll get it up to code…I’ll buy the house for you,” Harper shared.


This kind of revolutionary thinking is not foreign to the social entrepreneur. Harper has invested in his community throughout the span of his career.

Whether promoting political and social mobility, sharing inspirational down-to-earth insights with young people, or selecting acting roles that reflect the fullness of the African American experience, Harper sets the bar at excellence for himself and his community.

Photo: Facebook/Hill Harper

The Iowa native turned Detroit resident has fully embraced the city he now calls home. “There’s an energy in the city, creative energy,” Harper shared with Frank Witsil of the Detroit Free Press.

With the recent purchase of the Charles T. Fisher Mansion in Boston Edison, Harper brought together dozens of local designers for what has since been called the biggest investment of any historic home renovation in the city of Detroit.

“We’re bringing life into restoring the greatness of this house and the greatness of the past but at the same time speaking to its essence and bringing something about the future and future possibilities and something that’s inspirational,” Harper said.

Photo: Curbed Detroit/ Michelle & Chris Gerard

Harper, who says he fell in love with Detroit after filming here, is making major investments in the history, art, and perhaps most importantly, the people of Detroit.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan is proud to partner with Hill Harper to reimagine the ways we guide our youth toward social and economic mobility for themselves and their communities.


“Boost America” is a movement to challenge cities, towns, families, friends, and everyone across the country, to take the step to engage with their credit. Click here to learn more on Hill Harpers partnership with Experian.