Judge okayed tax foreclosures on thousands of Wayne County families

Colombo refuses to consider hardships & excessive taxes of hundreds who came to object

Crowd seated in court auditorium
People who came to protest tax foreclosure were ushered into the auditorium before going to see foreclosure counselors or the judge.

On Feb. 18 & 19, some of the thousands of people threatened with tax foreclosure this year came to protest and were ushered into the auditorium before going to see foreclosure counselors or the judge.

Several hundred people who had signed objections to having their homes put into tax foreclosure filed into Wayne County Chief Judge Colombo’s Courtroom on Feb. 18 and 19. Many told the Judge they had been put into payment plans that they they can’t afford.

But despite the many compelling stories people gave describing their medical, economic and familial hardship, Judge Colombo’s response to the vast majority of cases was to rule the foreclosure ‘granted.’

Some people did at least win a delay. But in each case where the excessive taxes for the property and other issues were raised, the answer was, ‘nothing I can do.’

One woman ended by stating that the Judge should remember her when the police surround her residence and she is removed dead!

Thousands foreclosed on, without the Judge even knowing their names

The Corp. Counsels had hundreds of pages of “foreclosures listed.” After the objectors each had a few minutes to state their cases, the Counsels asked the Judge to grant Foreclosure for all the rest of the people on the lists.

Eviction Defense lawyer standing up for clients in  court
“Scavenger companies [are] coming into town, buying up properties at foreclosure auctions, and using whatever they can – illegal evictions, tricks and just mass court filings to get people out of their homes.
“No one has really seen anything like it.”
– DED lawyer Joe McGuire, as quoted in Fox2 News report on an eviction fight after last year’s tax foreclosures.

The Judge’s response to these thousands of ‘defendants,’ sight or even names unseen, was ‘granted.’ The actual written Judgment of Foreclosure is expected on March 20. Yet the ‘redemption period,’ when all agreements or payments to get out of foreclosure must be made, ends March 31.

“While we had little direct impact, both the County and Judge were aware of our presence,” said Eviction Defense activist Pat Driscoll, who gave the above eyewitness report of what happened.

Warning: If you’re trying to pay back taxes, make sure Wayne County takes you off the foreclosure list!

If you got a “Stipulated Payment Plan Recommendation,” you’re still are on the foreclosure list until you enroll in an actual Stipulated Payment Agreement.

If you pay online, make sure the County applies your payments to the correct year. We have heard from people whose payments were applied to a previous year, and then got charged interest and late fees for the year they were trying to pay for.

The crisis began when up to 37,000 families got tax foreclosure notices this year!

Communities & groups organize vs. tax foreclosures

Key dates for confronting tax foreclosure in Wayne County

Women explaining how to get tax assessments revised
See video by United Community Housing Coalition that explains clearly what to do to avoid tax foreclosure.

Read about the Jan.-Feb. ‘show-cause’ hearings and other key dates for people 3 years behind on their taxes. See other events leading  up to the the April 1 date when they could lose their homes to tax foreclosure if nothing is done.

See also dates when you can challenge and protest unfair tax assessments, when Wayne County takes over homes 2 years behind on their taxes, and deadlines for applying for various exemptions and extensions – including how to apply.

Fighting tax foreclosures:

The background to the crisis and key steps you can  take now to save your home – and things to watch out for.

Includes a helpful document you can download and share with friends, family and  neighbors.

Tax bills in Detroit are way too high!

We took a random look at homes in Detroit and nearby suburbs that have similar tax bills – Even we were shocked at what we found. Take a look.

We need to organize for basic change

With so many families endangered by foreclosure and  with so many who have already lost their homes to unfair foreclosures, the system is clearly broken. We can’t accept this!

How we need to join forces and organize for basic changes — starting with suspending all tax foreclosures until major injustices can  be corrected.

Find out  what else we believe must be done to make the system respond to the needs of Detroit and its residents.

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