Wayne County extends deadline to pay property tax

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News
  • Wayne County moves deadline for homeowers hoping to save properties from tax foreclosure to June 8.
  • It’s the second extension this spring, Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz said..
  • In June, the office started the foreclosure process on nearly 75,000 properties,mostly in Detroit.

Detroit — Wayne County on Tuesday extended the deadline until June 8 for homeowners hoping to save their properties from the tax foreclosure auction.

It’s the second extension this spring and is aimed at getting more owner occupants to use new debt relief programs, Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz said in a press release.

“I have heard from distressed taxpayers who hadn’t heard of these new programs, consulted with community groups and other government officials, and determined we need a few more weeks to reach those who are still facing foreclosure,” he said.

Recent legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder allows the treasurer to lower the interest on debt from 18 to 6 percent for many homeowners. In many instances, homeowners can have taxes capped at a quarter of the market value of the home.

In June, the office started the foreclosure process on nearly 75,000 properties, the vast majority in Detroit. But as of this month, 40,000 of those property owners had paid or were in payment plans or other programs.

About 30,000 are still facing foreclosure, including an estimated 4,402 owner-occupied houses. In addition, 11,761 are vacant lots and 8,742 are unoccupied structures.

Activists and other community groups, including the ACLU of Michigan, are pushing for a halt to the foreclosures, sending Wojtowicz a letter on Tuesday warning of “an unprecedented human rights catastrophe.”

“Tossing thousands of human beings into the streets as the county plans to do is against the law, not to mention callous and short-sighted,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, in a news release. “Many of these people are Detroit homeowners whose property taxes have been over-assessed for years, if not decades, and yet have tried desperately to keep pace.

“The county should not try to balance its books on the backs of our most exploited citizens.”

Wojtowicz is pursuing a record number of foreclosures this year, but his staff has said halting the process would only allow people to get further behind.

To learn more, contact the Treasurer’s Office by phone at (313) 224-5990, by email at taxinfo@waynecounty.com, or by visiting the office at 400 Monroe in Detroit.

cmacdonald@detroitnews.com

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