In the North End neighborhood of Detroit, 15 community groups and partner organizations came together in 2007 to create Storehouse of Hope, an organization that provided services and basic necessities for formerly incarcerated people. After noticing that the people they were supporting couldn’t keep jobs because of a lack of reliable transportation, Storehouse of Hope branched off into a new organization called the North End Woodward Community Coalition (NEWCC) to work on transit justice issues. Since then, NEWCC has helped Detroiters gain a voice and tell their story by launching their radio station WNUC, and has started the Equitable Internet Initiative, which helps residents in three Detroit neighborhoods get online and leverage digital technology.  

The sun doesn’t just shine on the rich and famous, the sun shines on all of us.
— Rev. Joan Ross, Executive Director
Rev. Joan Ross.  Photo courtesy of USGBC

Rev. Joan Ross. Photo courtesy of USGBC

NEWCC’s work with solar began in 2010, in response to the City of Detroit’s decision to turn off, remove, or neglect to fix streetlights in multiple neighborhoods, plunging streets in darkness each night. NEWCC raised money for solar streetlights so that students wouldn’t have to wait in the dark for their school buses— and they placed those streetlights on private land, so they wouldn’t be affected by the city’s ability to fix them. During the same period, NEWCC purchased 15 homes at risk of foreclosure and placed them in Detroit’s only community land trust— keeping residents in their homes, and ensuring affordability across multiple generations. 

The Honnold Foundation has partnered with NEWCC to install solar panels on ten of these land trust homes, reducing electricity costs for the families living there. By placing solar panels directly in the hands of low-income Detroiters living in one of the most polluted zip codes in the United States, NEWCC actively works to change the narrative that solar is only for the rich.