End Tax Foreclosures During a Pandemic

Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree recently announced that he will not extend the 2020 moratorium on the property tax foreclosure auction in 2021. Resuming tax foreclosures auction sales on owner occupied homes in the midst of a global pandemic will displace many vulnerable families and he must reverse this decision immediately.

The long term economic impact of COVID along with the unabated illegally high property tax assessments in Detroit make continuing the moratorium a moral necessity. While some low-income property owners can pursue a Poverty Tax Exemption (PTE) to extinguish their tax burden through the Pay As You Stay (PAYS) program, many over assessed owners of low valued homes do not qualify for this exemption. It’s simply not a complete solution.

Since 2009, Wayne County has foreclosed on 1 in 3 Detroit homes. A recent study shows that 10 percent of all homes and 25 percent of the lowest valued homes would not have gone into tax foreclosure but for the illegally inflated property tax assessments. Foreclosures on owner-occupied homes need to cease until we know the City of Detroit is assessing property tax values correctly. This is why current Wayne County Executive, Warren Evans, has called the money made from the tax foreclosure auction “blood money.”

The pandemic is still in full swing: Many are still not vaccinated and many remain out of work. To prevent displacement and homelessness during the pandemic, in 2021, Sabree must place a moratorium on the tax foreclosure of owner occupied homes.
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