Feb 2, 2015
Almost 1,000 people showed up at Cobo Hall on the first day of hearings for Detroit residents to “show cause” why they shouldn’t lose their homes to foreclosure. Wayne County plans to hold six more days of hearings in order to handle the more than 14,000 homeowners expected to show up. The county chose to use Cobo Hall as a courthouse because there are simply too many cases for any actual courthouse to handle.
The homes aren’t slated for foreclosure because their owners haven’t paid their mortgages, but because of unpaid property taxes. There are 60,000 homes at risk of foreclosure this year in Wayne County, the vast majority of them in Detroit. As many as 70,000 homes have already been foreclosed on since 2009.
The number of tax foreclosures is increasing because county treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz decided this year to go after residents with smaller yearly tax bills than previously. Another reason is that the county has been gouging homeowners with an 18 per cent interest rate on what they owe!
In addition, the city of Detroit started tacking delinquent water bills from June 2011 to May 2012 onto people’s property tax bills. So people are in danger of losing their homes because they can’t pay their water bills!
The politicians pretend to be sympathetic. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation allowing the county to lower the interest rates to “just” 6 per cent. And Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is crowing about lowering property tax assessments on many homes for the second straight year, this year by 5 to 20 percent.
Of course, no politician is proposing to forgive anyone’s back taxes or apply any interest rate or assessment reductions retroactively. They’re simply offering people a chance to go on a payment plan, while at the same time sending people through entire neighborhoods with foreclosure notices.
The only real solution is a fight to push back the ongoing attacks by the wealthy, the banks and the corporations to take everything they can from the working class.