In the last 15 years, one in three Detroit properties have been foreclosed on. When most people think of foreclosure, they think of people who can’t afford to pay off their mortgages.
But in Detroit, it’s often the result of people struggling to pay their property taxes. One big reason is that, in the years after the Great Recession, the city went bankrupt and failed to lower property assessments far enough to account for the impact of the housing crisis. While the value of residents’ homes fell, their taxes remained inordinately high, and tens of thousands of people fell so far behind on their inflated tax bills that the county seized their homes and sold them off at annual auctions.