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Wayne County begins next round of tax foreclosures

Nov 24, 2014

Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, up 34% from 56,000 last year.

Foreclosure sign
Credit Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on properties the county plans to auction next fall if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans.

There are 62,000 properties in Detroit owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees that are set to be foreclosed. Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies indicates that 37,000 of those Detroit Properties are occupied.

Christine MacDonald from the Detroit News explored possible reasons behind the current spike in foreclosures:

"The increase is largely because of a policy shift by county Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, who has decided to foreclose on all properties that are at least three years' late in taxes.

By law, those properties are supposed to be foreclosed. But since 2005, Wojtowicz has not taken action on properties with smaller tax bills — $1,500 to $1,700 per year — because he said he lacked the staff to handle that many. Doing so, though, allowed some properties' bills to accumulate to several thousand dollars because the treasurer looked only at the amount of annual tax bills."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he is working with county Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz and legislators to push policy changes to "head off large chunks of foreclosures."

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom