Detroit’s foreclosure auctions could leave thousands homeless

by 30 Oct 2014
What was was once one of the largest and most prominent cities in America is now one of the country’s biggest headaches. Detroit was once home to a booming automobile industry, MoTown records and a population of more than two million.

Now, after the decline of America’s auto industry, a series of political scandals and a bankruptcy, the city is a ghost town, with its dwindling population of less than 700,000 and bevy of abandoned and foreclosed homes.

And now Detroit’s blight is about to get worse before it gets better. In an effort to get back on its feet, the city has begun a bidding process on foreclosures that could evict thousands of its residents, many of whom still live in their foreclosed homes and are too poor to pay their property taxes, according to The Atlantic.

This year the city has experienced 22,000 foreclosures on properties where the owner failed to pay property taxes for three consecutive years. Out of this year’s foreclosed properties about half are estimated to still be occupied.

Additionally, in the next few months, Wayne County will serve more 75,000 foreclosure notices, 62,000 of which are located in Detroit and half of those are estimated to be occupied, according to the media outlet. Tax-delinquent resident currently occupy more than half of the city’s properties.

With the city’s plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new construction and have more auctions on foreclosed homes, The Atlantic predicts about 115,000 Detroiters could lose their homes next year.

Wayne County has become one of the biggest owners of foreclosed homes since the bust. This year alone, the county has started foreclosure proceedings on 56,000 properties with about 20,000 of them headed for auction.

“Perhaps because so many believe that poor people are ill-equipped to be homeowners, very few people losing their homes to foreclosure have been informed that they can re-buy their homes,” The Atlantic article stated.  Delinquent property taxes can equal thousands of dollars, and many homeowners are unaware that they could regain ownership by simply bidding on their homes for as little as $500.

Cheryl Harris, a civil-rights law professor at UCLA, told The Atlantic that “pushing residents out and blaming their lack of ability to pay is ignoring the larger, structural issue of racial discrimination… They have no intention of locking the gates on Detroit and walking away. That is not what is happening here. What is happening is a kind of clearing on the ground for its reconstitution.”

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