Detroit City Council wants Wayne Co. property tax moratorium extended through 2022
The Detroit City Council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday asking the Wayne County Treasurer's Office to extend the expiring moratorium on property tax foreclosures through the remainder of the year.
The current eviction moratorium lifts on Thursday, but the council is asking Treasurer Eric Sabree to extend the moratorium through Dec. 31.
The resolution was sponsored by City Council President Mary Sheffield, who was not in attendance Tuesday; District 7 Councilman Fred Durhal III introduced it.
"We've spent a few weeks knocking on doors, holding events with HOPE applications to prevent foreclosures. Council president wanted me to indicate she believes this would be necessary to try to urge our Wayne County treasurer to extend the moratorium on property tax foreclosure," Durhal said.
Sabree's office has only been foreclosing on vacant homes during the moratorium.
In a statement to The Detroit News Tuesday, Sabree said he respects the council for its advocacy on behalf of residents; however, the law requires the office to collect property taxes to fund 43 communities within Michigan's largest county.
The concern is mutual, he added.
"Over the past 2 years, I, along with other county treasurers in the state, have taken extreme measures to address the economic fallout from the pandemic. My office has helped keep residents throughout Wayne County in their homes," Sabree said.
"Unfortunately, our efforts have not been matched by many leaders in Wayne County cities. Other cities throughout the country have adopted policies to address current taxes to ensure that delinquencies are kept at a minimum; we, unfortunately, have not seen this type of action taken or advocated by the Detroit City Council."
When the city of Detroit informs the treasurer's office that a property's taxes are delinquent, the law requires the office to adhere to schedules and maintain city services, he said.
"This requires borrowing the funds which are secured by those taxes I am required to collect. If we fail to collect delinquent taxes, that ends up harming the city and those who do pay taxes to it," Sabree said.
The city is in its endemic stage and has relaxed some of its protocols; however, residents are still impacted from the pandemic's lingering effects, the council stated in the resolution.
When Sabree announced the moratorium on March 16, 2020, it allowed around 13,800 county residents to remain in their homes.
The county foreclosed on 145,458 parcels between 2005 and 2017, an analysis by Detroit data firm Regrid found, about a third of all properties in the city.
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There is an overwhelming demand for payment plans and appointments, according to the council's resolution. The resolution forecasts 1,500 occupied homes will be foreclosed on by Wayne County when the moratorium lifts for nonpayment of property taxes.
At-large Councilmember Mary Waters said residents have asked for help at two outreach events last week and further education is needed.
"People are always grateful for the support," Waters said. "There was one lady who cried with us on Friday because she fell on some hard times, lost her husband and she was very grateful. This is making a difference."
The resolution comes as the Coalition for Property Tax Justice has been calling for Sabree to extend the moratorium, stating that aside from the pandemic, massive flooding last summer caused significant damage to homes, creating further expenses for homeowners to repair.
Homeowners who need assistance can also reach out to the Homeowner Assistance Fund, launched by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer utilizing American Rescue Plan Act funds to supplement residents behind on their property tax payments. The fund allocates up to $25,000 per eligible household to cover expenses, including delinquent property taxes.
Call (844) 756-4423 or visit Michigan.gov.