Detroit braces for a flood of tax foreclosures

A fresh wave of foreclosures could destabilize neighborhoods in Detroit, just as they are beginning to recover from the mortgage meltdown.

Wayne County plans to sell 28,545 Detroit properties at auction this fall — including about 10,000 occupied homes — that are three or more years delinquent on taxes. That’s a record number, in part because Treasurer Raymond J. Wojtowicz ended a long practice of avoiding foreclosure on properties with delinquencies of less than $1,700.

Officials said they’re sympathetic, but the days of avoiding paying taxes in Detroit are over.

“We want to keep people in the homes. We realize it’s bad for neighborhoods,” said David Szymanski, the county’s chief deputy treasurer.

“But there are services provided for homes. If you don’t pay your taxes, your neighbor is subsidizing them for you. That’s not fair.”

The tally is down from about 67,000 Detroit properties served with foreclosure notices last fall. That’s because 40,000 owners have agreed to payment plans and other programs offered by the treasurer.

Activists fear widespread devastation, coming atop 139,000 mortgage and tax foreclosures in Detroit since 2005.

Read on.

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