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tax foreclosure

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

new lawsuit says Michigan’s property tax foreclosure laws are unconstitutional and amount to “government sanctioned theft.”

The case was filed this week on behalf of two men who lost Oakland County properties to foreclosure.

One of the men, Uri Rafaeli, lost a rental property in Southfield when he miscalculated the amount of interest he owed on 2011 property taxes by $8.41. Oakland County foreclosed, then sold the home for $24,500.

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. 

gavel
Blogtrepreneur / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled against plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against Wayne County over tax foreclosures.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a group of Detroit homeowners. It alleges that cities in Wayne County failed to perform required property tax assessments for years, over-assessing homes and forcing homeowners into tax foreclosure. The plaintiffs argue that these actions violated the Fair Housing Act because they disproportionately affected African-American homeowners. 

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

Michigan's "Hardest Hit" program for homeowners is winding down.

Hardest Hit is the federal program to help people keep their homes after the Great Recession.

Mary Townley is vice president of Step Forward. That's the name of the state's Hardest Hit program.

She says Michigan has received $761 million from the federal government since late 2010.

A little more than half has gone to blight demolitions, and the rest to homeowners in distress.

Tax Foreclosures in Detroit
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Wayne County will put more than 6,000 properties up for auction online starting this week.

Tuesday kicks off the first round of bidding in the annual sale for the county’s property tax-foreclosed properties. It’s become something of a real estate bonanza in recent years, as the county has foreclosed on tens of thousands of homes since 2009 — and by one count, as many as one in four properties in the entire city of Detroit.

Anti-foreclosure activists in front of Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree's home.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Anti-foreclosure protesters targeted Wayne County treasurer Eric Sabree where he lives—outside his Detroit home—on Thursday, calling for an end to “illegal” property tax foreclosures.

A report and lawsuit claims that Detroit over-assessed up to 85% of homes in the city from 2009-2015. That violates the Michigan state constitution, which caps local tax assessments at 50% of a property’s market value.

duggan with tapscott posing for cameras
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In a ceremony at Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center on Wednesday, a small handful of Detroiters regained homes lost to property tax foreclosure.

The group of 60 was the second to complete the Detroit Land Bank’s “occupied buy-back” program. About 80 people completed the program last month.

The Detroit Land Bank now has close to 100,000 properties in its inventory, making it the largest property owner in the city. Around 4,000 of them are thought to be occupied.

Mayor Mike Duggan handing Kiya Snapp the deed to her house after she completed the occupied buy back program
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Eighty Detroit families are regaining ownership of their homes, after nearly losing them to foreclosure.

This is the first group of families to complete the Detroit Land Bank’s “occupied buy back” program that sells Land Bank-owned homes to people rather than kick them out.

A new study shows that as many as 85% of homes in Detroit might have been taxed at rates that violate the Michigan Constitution.
BasicGov / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit may not get the attention it deserves. In fact, the tax foreclosure crisis didn’t just happen, and it doesn't continue to happen, by unfortunate circumstances. There are decisions behind it. One group says those decisions are illegal.

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

In Wayne County alone, some 10,000 properties are scheduled to be auctioned off this fall because of back taxes, according to Treasurer Eric Sabree. It’s a massive problem affecting people across the Metro Detroit area, and county officials are pushing homeowners to see if they can qualify for federal help.

Michigan still has one of the highest rates of juvenile lifers in the country.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Senate subcommittee has passed a budget cutting the Department of Corrections' budget by $40 million. The department says that would mean cutting jobs and programs to fight recidivism. Both Republicans and Democrats want to see lower prison populations.

Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss whether this plan could get bi-partisan support.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking on homeowners in Wayne County who received tax foreclosure notices. They have until June 7 to either pay their taxes or sign up for a payment plan.

Brandy Gutierrez was evicted from her house in Lincoln Park. She says no one told her it had gone into tax foreclosure until it was too late.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In Wayne County, tens of thousands of properties go into tax foreclosure every year.

Most are in Detroit. But it happens in the suburbs too.

Some suburban communities have started buying those tax-foreclosed homes, and turning them over to developers.

But many of the affected homeowners didn’t know that until it was too late to save their homes.

Some tried to fight anyway. But this month, that fight came to a bitter end.

A map shows the link between water debt and property tax foreclosures in Detroit.
We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective

New citizen-led research is drawing a link between two of Detroit’s biggest social crises: water service shutoffs, and property tax foreclosures.

The We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective gathered that data for its report “Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantling of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit.”

Detroit’s aggressive and controversial water shutoff policy for delinquent households was ramped up during the city’s bankruptcy, and has continued with some modifications since then.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The first thing you notice about the street in front of Walter Hicks' home is it's peaceful.  There are lots of trees, chirping birds, and most of the lawns are mowed.  

But then you see that the houses on either side of Hicks' home are boarded up. And there are lots of boarded up homes all down the street. 

That doesn't seem to put even a little dent in his pride of ownership.

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree.
Wayne County

Some breaks for Michigan homeowners struggling to pay property taxes have expired.

Governor Snyder signed laws in 2015 that reduced interest and other penalties on delinquent taxes. They also reduced back taxes for some homeowners who owed much more than their properties were worth.

That was largely meant for Wayne County, and especially Detroit, where tens of thousands of properties enter the tax foreclosure process every year.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

A Detroit woman is fighting to win back her home of 40 years.

Wayne County foreclosed on Mary Sanders' home over about $1,200 in unpaid taxes and fees.

The home was purchased for $2,300 in a tax auction last fall by Chris Meyer, a California-based developer who owns CDM Real Estate, Inc., in Ann Arbor.

Sanders says she was unaware she owed outstanding taxes. Sanders, 80, also qualified for tax exemptions based on her age and income that she says she was not informed about.

Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge has given some Wayne County homeowners suing over alleged illegal foreclosures a partial, early victory.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy granted a temporary restraining owner protecting three families from eviction at least through mid-January.

The families are part of a larger federal lawsuit that alleges officials from Wayne County and several Detroit suburbs illegally “conspired” to seize their homes through tax foreclosure, and sell them off to private developers.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Eighteen people are suing Wayne County and several Detroit suburbs, alleging their homes were illegally taken in a tax foreclosure process that amounted to a “thinly veiled scheme” for “private profit.”

All the homeowner-plaintiffs in this case had their properties foreclosed by Wayne County over back taxes.

And in each case the cities they lived in, exercising their “right of first refusal” under Michigan tax law, reclaimed the properties before they could go to auction. The cities then sold the homes to developers.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County auctions off tens of thousands of tax-foreclosed properties every year.

The county’s latest annual property auction wrapped up last week.

It’s a major event for budding Detroit real estate investors. Yet their wins can also be devastating losses for people living in those homes.

That's why a growing movement is trying to help some of them become winners, too.


via Loveland Technologies

Bidding on this year’s glut of tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County has wrapped up.

Final numbers aren't available yet. But the annual auction has become a real estate mega-event in recent years, as tax foreclosures have soared and flooded the market with delinquent properties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Round two of what’s become known as the “world’s largest municipal property auction” starts this week.

That would be Wayne County’s annual tax foreclosure auction.

More than 26,000 properties remain after the auction’s first round last month, when just over 2,000 properties sold.

The Tricycle Collective / via Facebook

 An online fundraising campaign is underway to help 20 Detroit families keep their homes.

The Tricycle Collective assists families facing property tax foreclosure in Detroit.

More than 25,000 Detroit properties are set to go on the auction block at this year’s Wayne County tax foreclosure auction.

An estimated 8,000 are occupied residential homes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s two largest counties are illegally foreclosing on thousands of properties for delinquent taxes, according to class-action lawsuits filed this month.

Wayne and Oakland counties have both foreclosed on thousands of properties for unpaid taxes in recent years.

But in doing so they’ve denied property owners their due process rights, according to the lawsuits filed in circuit courts for both counties.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr

After months of outreach and efforts to avoid a massive foreclosure crisis, more than 32,000 Wayne County properties are still on track for the county’s annual property tax auction in the fall.

That’s 32,629 properties county-wide, according to the latest numbers from the Wayne County Treasurer’s office. 28,545 of those distressed properties are in Detroit, the heart of the delinquent property tax issues.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has again extended the deadline for homeowners to avoid tax foreclosure.

Facing the prospect of an unprecedented foreclosure crisis, the county has expanded its outreach efforts to distressed homeowners, and had already moved back the original March payment deadline to Monday. 

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of Detroit and Wayne County homeowners face tax foreclosures.  Some of those families still have time to save their homes, but they might be paying more in taxes than they should have had to pay.

Foreclosed House
Brendel / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is one of several organizations calling on Wayne County to halt tax foreclosures for thousands of properties.

This comes the same day the Wayne County Treasurer's Office announced a second deadline extension for residents to avoid losing their homes.

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 30,000 Wayne County residents are facing tax foreclosure as a deadline extension comes to an end Tuesday.

The county extended the original March 31 deadline after issuing foreclosure notices to around 75,000 properties with delinquent taxes.

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