Thousands of Detroit residents have until May 12 to file applications for payment plans in an effort to avoid the sweeping foreclosures plaguing the city. The payment plans would give homeowners the option to pay their overdue property taxes in installments, as opposed to losing their property altogether.
Last year, Wayne County mailed out 72,000 foreclosure notices, many of which went to Black homeowners in Detroit. Approximately 13,000 Detroit homeowners have already applied for payment plans, but another 16,000 residents have not. The remainder of the foreclosure notices went to the city’s overwhelming number of abandoned buildings.
"This is a state of emergency," said Abayomi Azikiwe, a member of a Moratorium Now, a group aimed to halt the foreclosures, to Detroit News. "Ten thousand people could be removed from their homes if something isn't done."
The Detroit housing market has been crumbling in recent years, and the struggles were compounded after the city declared bankruptcy in 2013. Approximately 100,000 homes are vacant, and the city has been trying multiple solutions to revive the housing market. Last year, city officials auctioned off abandoned homes for as low as $1,000, on the condition that the buyer find someone to occupy the home within six months. The city has also offered writers free homes to give them a space to work.
The deadline to file payment plans was originally yesterday, but the Detroit City Council urged the county to postpone the due date until May 12. City officials fear that issuing thousands of foreclosures would only add to the number of vacant homes within the city.
"You are never going to stop the blight until you stop the foreclosures," said Detroit Eviction Defense social worker Dawn DeRose to the Detroit News. "What kind of government are we having here in Detroit if you turn 80-year-olds out of their homes?