Deadline looms for Wayne County homeowners to pay back taxes 

16,000 households are facing the threat of foreclosure, though for many, there are services and programs that can help prevent displacement. 

 

For the past two years, there’s been a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions in Wayne County and other parts of Michigan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The freeze in foreclosures for occupied homes is now over and a March 31 deadline looms for people to contest the process.

Ted Phillips, the Executive Director of the United Community Housing Coalition, says things are returning to normal and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“We know that the numbers are picking up,” Phillips says. “With the moratoriums having ended [at the] end of August last year, there was, last look, … about 1,400 cases where there’s been applications for orders for the bailiffs to do evictions and that’s picking up as well. Back to normal is not a good thing necessarily for those issues.”

Phillips says an eviction often doesn’t have to happen.

“People don’t understand when that yellow bag is tacked on their door what all of their options are. The treasurer’s office has gotten really good about including in that notice a lot of resources. But sometimes there’s so many that like, where do you turn, you know, so, and sometimes those resources aren’t staffed adequately.”

Phillips says that just eight years ago, the foreclosure process was started on 50,000 homes in Wayne County – per year – over back taxes.

An influx of federal and private dollars has led to services like the Pay as You Stay program that works with homeowners to slow or stop the foreclosure process.

The United Community Housing Coalition also works with the city for the Make it Home program that gives residents living in foreclosed properties the option to purchase their home before the foreclosure auction.

Phillips says the city has stepped up in ensuring people who need representation have it.

“That’s what we really need to do, to have every person who is low income and in jeopardy of being displaced to have counsel,” Phillips says.

It’s made a significant difference in terms of helping people facing foreclosure, Phillips says.

“Pre-COVID, you’d have tenants and land contract purchasers going before the court [and] they don’t know … even basic stuff. And so it makes all the difference in the world,” Phillips says, adding “one of the things we’ve seen during COVID is the benefit that attorneys for tenants have had to the landlords, because they managed to move things along quicker, to make sure that the programs that tenants qualified for they got into, that the landlords got paid.”


Listen: Foreclosures and evictions in Wayne County.

 


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  • Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.