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Heard on All Things Considered

ACLU, NAACP File Class Action Lawsuit Over Tax Foreclosures

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Image credit: Amy Haimerl

The suit claims Detroit and Wayne County discriminated against poor homeowners who lost their houses to foreclosure.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the NAACP are suing the city of Detroit and Wayne County over alleged discriminatory tax foreclosures. The class action lawsuit claims the city seized the homes of people who should have been entitled to “poverty tax exemptions.” The suit says the city puts an undue burden on homeowners to qualify for those lower bill payments. Michigan’s ACLU Legal Director Michael Steinberg says in Michigan, tax assessment is based on the true cash value of a house.

The problem here in Detroit is when the market plummeted, the housing marketed plummeted in 2008, and the values decreased tremendously, the tax bill did not decrease at the same rate.”

Michael Steinberg​, Legal Director, ACLU of Michigan

Steinberg says as a result, thousands of Detroiters, most of them African-American, lost their homes to foreclosure. He says under the Fair Housing Act, local governments are liable for discrimination.

Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

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