Can government stop tax foreclosures? Model D contributor says yes

Why have there been so many tax foreclosures in Detroit over the past decade? As we covered in our two-part series on the topic, it's a complicated issues with numerous causes. We also learned that there are viable solutions that many in government are overlooking. 

That's what regular Model D contributor Michele Oberholtzer argues in a column she wrote for the Detroit Free Press titled "Government can stop tax foreclosure."

The lowest hanging fruit is the "Step Forward" program created by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Because of strict rules and standards in the application process, every year the program "denies assistance to hundreds of applicants."

Similar issues plague applying for the poverty tax exemption. "A retroactive poverty exemption could annul foreclosures for hundreds or thousands of at-risk Detroit homeowners who are losing their houses for taxes that they could have had waived," Oberholtzer writes.

She also thinks pro-ownership programs like Right of Refusal are being underutilized. In 2017, this program saved 80 homes from the tax auction, allowing homeowners to buy them back for $2,000 to $5,000. 

"If this program was expanded to include all occupied foreclosed homes, this would mean that 2,000 homes might be diverted from the grips of foreclosure onto a common-sense affordable path to homeownership."

Oberholtzer also wrote a column for Model D last year proposing that city-owned homes be sold back to their occupants. 
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