Detroit's Tax Foreclosure Crisis

Feeley, Dianne

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21471

Given the history of housing discrimination in Metro Detroit over the last 100 years, it is hardly surprising that the illegal over-assessments of property values has a greater impact on African-American homeowners.



This year the Wayne County Treasurer's office sent out 38,000 foreclosure notices to homeowners who were three years behind in their property taxes. Half of these were for tax bills of $3,000. Another 5,500 homeowners owe less than $2,000 and 650 less than $500. Some have been able to scrape up the funds and pay at least 2013 taxes.

Homeowners with three years of back taxes face foreclosure, so this year those who have not paid their 2013 taxes or signed up for a payment plan will have their homes auctioned off in September and October. But just as in the case of those who are in payment plans for their water bill, the vast majority are unable to pay and the city will foreclose on their property the following year.

But approximately 15,000 owner-occupied homes are still facing auction via the internet this fall. The lawsuit charges that these foreclosure notices are illegal and racially discriminatory. Filing a class-action lawsuit against the Wayne County Treasurer, the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund demands a moratorium against tax foreclosures for homeowners.
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