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Detroit Expands Efforts to Prevent Property Tax Instigated Foreclosures

Bolstering its efforts to prevent property tax-related foreclosures, the city of Detroit announced Wednesday it is expanding its Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP).

The main change to the program is that it will now offer a 25% property tax exemption to homeowners within certain income thresholds. Previously, homeowners could qualify for either 50% or 100% property tax exemptions if their incomes were below certain amounts. Now homeowners earning above those amounts can also qualify for some tax assistance.

The program previously offered 100% property tax exemptions to families of two earning $22,754 or less. Families of two earning $23,336 or less could qualify for a 50% property tax exemption.

Under the updated program, families of two earning $25,703 or less can qualify for a 25% property tax reduction. For a full chart of income eligibility and information on applying for a full or partial property tax exemption, residents can visit the City of Detroit website. The city is now accepting applications.

“This year we set out to increase the number of Detroit families assisted through HPTAP, and I am proud of our work in collaboration with Quicken Loans Community Fund, United Community Housing Coalition, and community groups to meet this goal,” said Detroit Chief Financial Officer David Massaron with the announcement of the HPTAP program expansion.

Detroit approved 30% more property tax exemptions in 2019 than 2018. The city approved full or partial exemptions for 7,601 homeowners, totaling nearly $5 million in property tax exemptions for the year. The city noted in its announcement that this is close to double the amount approved in 2014.

The expansion to the HPTAP also expands eligibility to Detroit’s Pay as You Stay (PYAS) Program, which was passed by the State house of Representatives in December. Through PYAS, homeowners facing foreclosure can obtain affordable payment plans.

“Thanks to the help of our great community partners, we have made a lot of progress reducing foreclosures by more than 90 percent and getting more Detroiters to apply for property tax exemptions,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Expanding access to property tax exemptions will help reach more Detroit families that may be struggling to pay their property tax bills and help them avoid possible foreclosure.”

Detroit has faced criticism for its practices regarding foreclosures due to delinquent property taxes. In December, DS News reported that one in four Detroit homeowners owes more in overdue property taxes than they did three years ago, according to information reported in The Detroit News.

After a Michigan home was foreclosed due to an unpaid property tax bill of $8.41, the Pacific Legal Foundation called on the Michigan Supreme Court to stop a law they said allowed counties to “profit” from foreclosures, according to a DS News article late last year.

Quicken Loans stepped in to help Detroit homeowners with the Neighbor to Neighbor initiative funded through the Quicken Loans Community Fund. Quicken reported in May 2019 that it helped 4,316 homeowners avoid foreclosure in 2018.

About Author: Krista F. Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.

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