Detroit Program Keeps Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Housed
Allie Gross reports on a new program, Make it Home, that offers Detroit homeowners a way to hold onto their deeds. Foreclosed upon for failing to pay property taxes, many low-income homeowners face the prospect of bidding against speculators in an auction, and likely losing their homes.
"Utilizing the Right of Refusal, a provision within Michigan's larger tax reversion law that allows governmental entities to buy foreclosed properties pre-auction, the City of Detroit, with significant funding from the Quicken Loans Community Fund, scooped up the occupied foreclosed homes — diverting them from the auction," Gross writes.
When deeds are issued, the nonprofit United Community Housing Coalition holds them until occupants repay the purchase price, which can range between $1,000 and $8,000. The money then goes into a revolving fund to buy back more homes.
While the foreclosure auction's original purpose was to "reactivate abandoned spaces and spark new ownership," it became a way for speculators and predatory landlords to snap up property without actually rejuvenating neighborhoods. Often, the homes involved stand vacant. Gross calls Make it Home "a remarkable phenomenon: bureaucrats from the public and private spheres coming together to imagine a solution to a problem that's burdened the community for decades."
The program's initial batch of properties totaled 500, but the problem is a lot bigger. "A Wayne County Treasury spokesman said 44,000 properties are at risk of foreclosure next year — 36,000 of them in Detroit."