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Detroit, Wayne County could get foreclosure help out of "lame duck"


State lawmakers are considering bills in this “lame duck” session that would provide one-time relief for property owners facing tax foreclosure in the coming year.

The situation is particularly dire in Wayne County, where the County treasurer has already served foreclosure notices on about 75,000 tax-delinquent properties—about 62,000 in Detroit alone. 

A record number will likely go to auction next fall if there’s no change in state law.

Redford Township Democrat Phil Cavanagh is sponsoring a House billthat would help some people who are trying to pay their back taxes. He says lawmakers “have to do something” about the “terrible situation” in Wayne County.

The bill has passed the House and a Senate committee. It would help those with delinquent taxes get on payment plans, and also reduce or waive the interest rate and penalties tacked onto back taxes. It

“People have been asking county treasurers for relief [from that],” Cavanagh said. “They would set up a payment plan, but the interest and penalties are really what would kill them.”

Another bill pending before the Senate would let the treasurer write down the total value of debt owed, if it exceeds 25% of a property’s total value.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was in Lansingthis week, pressing legislators to act. He said the focus should be on helping homeowners stay in their homes.

About 20,000 Detroit properties facing tax foreclosure are owner-occupied, Duggan said. “Those are the ones I’m most concerned about.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public 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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