DETROIT (AP) — About 1,600 homeowners have had their back taxes paid through a program designed to preserve wealth and home equity in Detroit while helping families achieve financial independence.

Another 3,250 Detroit homeowners also are in the Detroit Tax Relief Fund pipeline and could see their property tax debt paid in full by the end of the year, a foundation connected to billionaire businessman Dan Gilbert said Thursday.

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Gilbert announced the program in March through his Gilbert Family Foundation, starting with $15 million to pay off the property tax debt of 20,000 of the city’s poorest homeowners.

Money saved by homeowners can be used to make repairs to their houses, pay bills and meet other financial needs.

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Gilbert founded Detroit-based Quicken Loans, which now is known as Rocket Mortgage.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, the Gilbert Family Foundation also announced the hiring of Darnell Adams as director of Detroit Community Initiatives. Adams had served as vice president for Program Implementation at Invest Detroit. He will oversee the foundation’s philanthropic commitment, including efforts of the tax relief fund.

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