The Great Lake State’s housing market is feeling the smoother seas of change this month, with two major programs aimed at housing affordability taking off in its two most populous cities. From a lawsuit resulting in major foreclosure forgiveness in Detroit to a policy change that could increase inventory for affordable housing in Grand Rapids, Michigan residents will soon reap the benefits of progression.
A program that could impact nearly 700 households in the city of Detroit by avoiding impending foreclosure has just extended its filing deadline for qualifying residents. This is thanks to a settlement between the city and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) , which would allow for Detroit homeowners with “incomes below or near the federal poverty
The settlement originated from the basis that a “series of unfair procedural and logistical obstacles” prevented homeowners with low-incomes from a property tax exemption, provided under Detroit’s Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP). The ACLU argued that these obstacles, combined with a lack of public knowledge surrounding the program, were the cause of tens of thousands of low-income residents losing their homes for their inability to pay unfair taxes.
Through this program, the homes that would otherwise be listed on the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction would be purchased by the city, which would then be passed to the United Community Housing Coalition, an organization that assists renters and homeowners with financial navigation in order to remain in their homes. The original announcement of this program came with the filing deadline of July 13, but due to a severe lack of qualifying individuals being reached, it has been extended to August 31.
On the opposite side of the state and the issue, the city of Grand Rapids has seen a consistent dip in tax-foreclosed properties, resulting in the Kent County Land Bank Authority  restructuring its role in how it interacts within the process of redeveloping foreclosed properties. The organization will now work with the city to clean up title issues, rather than take title of the properties, while the city works to sell the sites to nonprofit housing developers.
The city hopes to alleviate the current affordable housing crisis being experienced by residents by getting these properties into the possession of local nonprofit development groups such as New Development Corp., Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), and Dwelling Place.