Community Organizations to Demand Wayne County Treasurer Extend May 12 Tax Foreclosure Deadline, and Place a Moratorium on Foreclosures of Occupied Homes
Tuesday, May 12, 12 Noon
Wayne County Treasurer’s office, 400 Monroe, Detroit (at Greektown)
Community Groups, including the ACLU, Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association, Moratorium Now Coalition, and many more will be holding a press conference and rally to demand that the Wayne County Treasurer extend the May 12 deadline for putting properties into tax foreclosure, and instead implement a moratorium on occupied homes to avert the emergency facing our community.
According to Wayne County Assistant Treasurer David Szymanski, 31,000 properties are scheduled to go into tax foreclosure as of May 12, with at least 9,000 occupied properties. This does not include the up to 18,000 properties being foreclosed on through the “reverter” program.
While the number of occupied homes facing foreclosure continues to be unprecedented, the total has been reduced from the original figure of 30,000 occupied homes primarily by the county frantically placing thousands of homeowners into “payment” plans. The same strategy was employed by the DWSD when the water shut-off disaster hit Detroit last summer and fall. However, a recent report outlined that of 24,743 households placed in water payment plans, all but 300 are in default and facing shut-off once again. The rush to payment plans is not an answer to the foreclosure epidemic, but simply delays the full impact of the catastrophe. At the minimum, a moratorium on foreclosures will give time to assess the impact of this effort by the treasurer.
The bulk of homes facing tax foreclosures are based on assessments far greater than the real value of the homes. A moratorium on foreclosures would allow an opportunity for property taxes owed to be reset based on the actual values of the properties. While Mayor Duggan and the treasurer have announced plans that attempt to deal with this contradiction, a moratorium on foreclosures would allow time to assure that these plans are implemented and tested for their effectiveness.
Detroit has the highest poverty rate of any city in the US. Yet, thousands of homeowners who should have been placed in hardship exemptions reducing or eliminating their property taxes were not given these exemptions. A moratorium on foreclosures will give time to insure that seniors and the poor do not lose their homes due to unpaid property tax bills that never should have been owed.
Szymanski announced that 5000 homes avoided tax foreclosure through the federal Helping Hardest Hit pay paying their delinquent bills. $251 million in hardest hit funds remain unspent. A moratorium on foreclosures would allow time to insure that these funds be utilized to stop the remaining foreclosures of occupied homes. In addition, to the extent that these funds are now being diverted to blight removal, a moratorium on foreclosures would allow time to demand that MSHDA and the U.S. treasury use the funds for the purpose for which they are intended, keeping families in their homes, not tearing them down.