Detroit — A nonprofit has raised over $30,000 to continue supporting Detroit families fighting to save their homes from the auction block. 

The Tricycle Collective, a woman-led volunteer nonprofit, gives $500 to families with children whose homes are being sold in the Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. 

They do so through an annual fall fundraiser, and they surpassed their goal for the campaign on Tuesday with 280 donors contributing to the "Keep Detroit at Home" campaign. 

“In the three years that the Tricycle Collective has supported families through the auction, we have seen a tipping in the odds against residents and into the favor of investors,” stated founder Michele Oberholtzer, founder of the Tricycle Collective, in a press release. “It used to be that information was the biggest gap between a person and their deed but now, more and more, it comes down to money. We are doing what we can.”

Michigan law states properties that are behind on tax payments for three years or more must go into foreclosure.

Through a partnership with the United Community Housing Coalition, the Collective has helped over 2,400 Detroit families save their homes and helped created the Tax Foreclosure Prevention Project. 

The Coalition also received a $500,000 grant awarded by the McGregor Fund on Tuesday to prevent foreclosure and eviction for 1,000 households over two years. The funding will be used to pay a portion of the lump sum deposit required for 600 homeowners to initiate a payment plan for back taxes. 

“Each foreclosure and eviction prevented means a family avoids the devastation of homelessness...But when foreclosed homes are purchased by investors at the tax auction, occupants are evicted, investor-owned homes are often neglected and blighted, and neighborhoods quickly destabilize,” Ted Phillips, executive director of the Coalition, said in a press release.

In 2015, Wayne County was in the midst of the largest municipal property auction in United States history with 30,000 properties for auction and 85 percent located in Detroit. 

According to Wayne County Treasurer's city website on judicial tax foreclosure, in the past two years, they have reduced foreclosures by more than 72 percent. 

Latest foreclosure status includes 6,000 parcels of land in Detroit as of Sept. 18. Of those 6,000 properties, about 763 are owner-occupied Detroit homes. Another 1,863 are occupied by Detroit renters.

The Tricycle Collective states that the tax foreclosure auction happens in two parts, the first in September and the second in October.

"The September auction was extremely competitive and so the residents of the remaining 1,800 occupied homes slated to sell in the October auction (starting Oct.13) will need all the help they can get," according to the press release. 

"One in three properties in Detroit has been auctioned through tax foreclosure since 2002. This is our city’s current reality,"

Twitter: @SarahRahal_

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