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Wayne County halts tax foreclosures, citing "economic hardships" from coronavirus

Wayne County

In an unprecedented move, the Wayne County Treasurer says he will halt alltax foreclosures this year due to impacts from the coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the rapidly changing recommendations on social distancing and the increasing economic uncertainty we are all facing, I have had to make an urgent decision to protect all the taxpayers facing foreclosure in Wayne County,” Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree said in a statement. “Given the fact that all taxpayers will be facing economic hardships in the coming months, I have made the decision to withhold all properties from the 2020 foreclosure petition.”

For the last decade, Wayne County has auctioned off thousands of tax-foreclosed properties every year, peaking in 2015 at nearly 25,000 properties. The county has foreclosed on about one-third of all Detroit properties since 2008.

For years, housing activists and researchers had called on Sabree to put a moratorium on the county’s tax auction, pointing to the blight and housing instability caused by foreclosures. Sabree had always maintained that would be illegal under state law.

However, Sabree warns that even though homeowners are not at risk of foreclosure this year, they must still pay property taxes, and will be held responsible for any delinquencies they incur.

The Wayne County Treasurer’s office is closed through at least April 3rd due to COVID-19 concerns.

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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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