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property tax foreclosure

BasicGov / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Many people in Detroit cannot or, sometimes in the case of landlords, do not pay property taxes. Every year, the Wayne County Treasurer's Office seizes owner-occupied homes and puts them up for auction.

Even with recent efforts to get homeowners on installment plans, lowering interests rates, and letting more low-income people know they might be eligible for property tax wavers, it hasn’t been enough to keep many people in their homes. There’s a high poverty rate in Detroit.

A foreclosure sign.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An effort to help some Wayne County residents from losing their homes to tax foreclosure seems to have stalled. Until the last minute, low-income property owners were being encouraged to apply for tax exemptions, with the hope of preventing their homes from being sold at Wayne County’s annual auction of tax-foreclosed properties.

Detroit City assessor Alvin Horhn’s office promoted the idea that some low-income homeowners might be able to avoid tax foreclosure this year if they hurried to apply for a tax exemption.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Many homes that go into tax foreclosure in Detroit are owned by landlords. The renters are often booted out once the homes are sold at auction.  

In a pilot project, Detroit has bought 80 of these homes where tenants have expressed interest in becoming homeowners.  The city used right of first refusal for the purchases. That means the city can buy the properties before they go to auction, paying only the county and state portions of the taxes owing, but not the city portion.