What Are Some Solutions to Tax Foreclosure Problem in Wayne County, SE Michigan?

The 2018 Wayne County tax foreclosure auction is right around the corner.

Jake Neher/WDET

The Wayne County foreclosure auction is fast approaching, which means hundreds of homeowners could lose their houses in the auction due to tax foreclosure.

Many renters could lose the roof over their heads simply because their landlords have been delinquent on taxes.

A recent ACLU of Michigan suit said homeowners were needlessly losing their homes to foreclosure, and a settlement of that suit included chances for owner-occupants to buy their homes back for a thousand dollars.

In the meantime, Wayne County says it’s trying to help people keep their homes. Part of that initiative is a program called Action Before Auction, which is essentially the last stop before the auction block.

This is the second year of that program, which county officials say has been pretty successful despite some criticism. They hope this year will be more successful with most of those criticisms addressed. But the program might also be at risk of being discontinued.

Jake Neher/WDET

“The program has yielded great results,” says Khalil Rahal, the economic development director of Wayne County.

“I’m not saying that this is the cure, but when you take properties and you prevent them from going to the problem…that’s at least a better situation, at the very least, than the problem and the routine we’ve been going through for decades,” says Rahal.

Jake Neher/WDET

Jerry Paffedorf, CEO of Loveland, says the county is getting a lot of money from the tax foreclosure auction, but not using that money for prevention of foreclosure.

“None of that surplus right now is being spent to solve the problem,” says Paffendorf. 

Michele Oberholtzer is a community organizer who has been fighting to keep people in their homes and draw attention to the tax foreclosure crisis. She says the stakes are high for many people in the city of Detroit.

“We have so much to lose and so little to spare because we have so few homeowners and so few homes and they’re so easily on the brink.”

To hear more about the tax foreclosure auction and programs on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.



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