FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DEMONSTRATION TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2017, 12 NOON, WAYNE COUNTY TREASURER’S OFFICE, 400 MONROE, DETROIT, MI 48226
DEMAND THAT THE AUCTION OF TAX FORECLOSED HOMES BE SUSPENDED IN LIGHT OF MSHDA AGREEING TO ENTERTAIN PROPOSAL TO USE HARDEST HIT FUNDS TO PAY DELINQUENT TAXES ON 1400 OCCUPIED HOMES.
CONTACT: 313-319-0870, MORATORIUM NOW! COALITION
The demonstration Tuesday, September 5, will demand that Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree suspend the auction of 3100 homes, including 1400 occupied homes, scheduled to begin September 5 and extend into October. The suspension will give time for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, MSHDA, to seek federal approval to a plan to amend the Step Forward program to allow Hardest Hit Funds to pay delinquent property tax bills of any occupied homes pulled from the auction by the City of Detroit and/or Wayne County treasurer exercising their right of first refusal to claim the homes.
At a meeting between the head of MSHDA and the administrator of the Helping Hardest Hit program and representatives of the Coaliton to Stop Unconstitutional Tax Foreclosures on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, MSHDA agreed to have Coalition members draft an amendment to the Step Forward rules to allow for Hardest Hit Funds to be used for the city of Detroit and./ or Wayne County to pay back property tax bills if they exercise right of first refusal on the 1400 occupied homes facing auction and then eviction starting next week. MSHDA which oversees the Hardest Hit Funds said they would submit this proposal for approval by Treasury.
At the meeting it came out that only 193 Wayne County families, of the thousands who have faced tax foreclosure this year, had received benefits from the Hardest Hit fund. This is a result of the Step Forward regulations being out of step with the reality of those facing the loss of their homes in Wayne County and especially Detroit. It also came out that there are currently $130 million in unspent Hardest Hit Funds available to keep families from losing their homes. In contrast, only $12 million is needed to pay the delinquent bills of the 1400 families scheduled to see the homes they occupy auctioned off over the next month, and then find themselves facing eviction.
Under Michigan law, either Wayne County or the City of Detroit can exercise their right of first refusal to pull occupied homes out of the auction. The agreement by MSHDA to pursue using Hardest Hit funds to pay the delinquent taxes on these homes offers a practical way forward to save 1400 more families from being thrown into the street. This plan would actually bring money into the treasuries of Wayne County and Detroit, who stand to recover pennies on what are owed in delinquent taxes through the auction.
Once the delinquent taxes are paid, the occupants will have the opportunity to pursue poverty tax exemptions to which are entitled and have their home assessments reset to the true market value in conformity with the Michigan constitution.