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No occupied properties in Wayne County tax foreclosure auction this year

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Wayne County will exempt all occupied properties from this year’s tax foreclosure auction, after County Treasurer Eric Sabree requested and was granted a court order to that effect late last week.

Sabree said there are multiple reasons for his last-minute request, all related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His office’s call center was strained to the point of being non-functional, and other constraints on the office prevented it from helping many people who needed assistance this year. And Sabree said many people are still waiting for tax returns and other government assistance that could help them make payments.

“Because of that, and because people are still struggling, we decided to go to court and ask that any occupied property be given an extended redemption period to March 31, 2022,” he said.

Sabree said the order applies to owner- and renter-occupied properties. Without it, around 6500 occupied properties, and about 10,000 total properties, would have gone to the foreclosure auction this year. That would have been a major increase from the county’s last tax foreclosure auction in 2019, when there were 3,960 foreclosures, the vast majority of them in Detroit.

In the meantime, Sabree said his office is working to enroll eligible low-income homeowners in the Pay As You Stay program, which offers substantial relief on delinquent property taxes. And delinquent low-income homeowners in Detroit are eligible to have lingering debts paid off by billionaire Dan Gilbert’s foundations, so long as they qualify and sign up for Detroit’s low-income property tax exemption.

Treasurers in Macomb and Oakland counties had already halted property tax foreclosures this year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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