Detroit Battles Tax Penalties that Create City of Renters
Detroit once led the nation in homeownership. Now the city has flipped to being majority renters rather than owners. One reason is that, even as Detroit begins to bounce back economically, tens of thousands of residents each year have bright orange foreclosure notices tacked to their front doors. A 1999 state law enables properties to be taken over and auctioned if the owners are delinquent on taxes. As the city has emerged from bankruptcy, officials have acknowledged the problem and are working alongside nonprofits and some in the private sector in efforts to fix it. Some signs of progress: A door-knocking campaign raises awareness about foreclosure risks and options such as a tax exemption for homeowners in poverty. A lawsuit by watchdog groups has nudged the city to mail notices about the tax exemption to homeowners with houses worth less than $95,000. And efforts such as one backed by Quicken Loans are aiding some residents. "It feels real good," says Pearlie Mack, a proud homeowner again thanks in part to Quicken's help.