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A Stark Visualization of Detroit's Tax Mess

A Detroit-based maker of "crowdfunding and social mapping systems," has developed an interactive map of the tax status of every property in Detroit. In bright yellows, oranges, and reds, the city's property tax "black hole" is brutally clear.

John Metcalfe discusses the "Why Don't We Own This?" map created by LOVELAND Technologies, with the intent of providing "property information in a clean and interactive way that is intuitive to use while increasing the sense of ownership and power a citizen has in their city."

"What looks like a big hunk of moldy cheese is in fact the property-tax status of [384,861] properties, as logged by Wayne County's online tax portal," writes Metcalfe. Bright yellows, oranges, and reds show the 151,607 properties that are either tax-distressed, subject to foreclosure, or already foreclosed. 

No wonder Wayne County’s record high tax auctions have attracted interest from investors "from around the U.S. and as far away as England, Cambodia, China and Australia."

"On the full, interactive version, you can zoom down to the level of streets to see who's behind on their payments on your block. Then, when you've selected an individual property, the map offers several ways to balance the tax debt – paying the fees online, for instance, or seeking a poverty exemption or financial assistance from grant-giving institutions. That means this bit of urban cartography isn't just neat to look at, but might help repay a little of the $444 million in taxes and penalties owed around Detroit."

Full Story: Detroit's Property Tax Black Hole, in Map Form

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