ACLU And NAACP Accuse The City Of Detroit Overcharging Homeowners On Tax Bills
The ACLU and the NAACP have filed a joint lawsuit against the Wayne County Treasurer and the City of Detroit. Both the ACLU and the NAACP allege that thousands of pending evictions are the result of illegal tax foreclosures.
The ACLU and the NAACP allege that the city failed to re-assess the value of residential properties after the financial collapse of 2008. The ACLU and the NAACP also allege that the city made it impossible for poor people to obtain poverty exemptions.
Detroit Property Taxes Are Miscalculated By 500% To 700%
Allegations against the City of Detroit for not re-assessing property values after the financial crisis is nothing new. Christine MacDonald and I have both written about it extensively over the past four years.
The ACLU and NAACP’s allegations also lend merit to what I fought Wayne County about in 2012. I was helping the late Kelly Parker keep her home during her tax foreclosure with Wayne County. I discovered Kelly’s home was assessed at 500% to 700% of its value.
Kelly Parker bought her house in 2003 with an assessed value of $60,000. When Wayne County attempted to do a tax foreclosure in 2012, the value of the property dropped to $5,000. Yet, the City of Detroit was still assessing the value of her house at $55,000. Kelly Parker allegedly owed nearly $10,000 for her 2010, 2011 and 2012 tax bill to Wayne County. Kelly’s tax bill should have been $2700.
I researched the values of comparable homes in that part of the city. We soon discovered Kelly was not alone. We discovered these gross miscalculations were citywide. The City of Detroit had failed to reassess the homes and reduce the taxes after property values plummeted due to the housing crisis.
City And County Failed To Offer Poverty Exemptions To Low Income Home Owners
The ACLU and the NAACP allege that the process for obtaining tax exemptions for low-income property owners was purposely made convoluted. Consequently, thousands of people who qualified for the exemption are losing their homes to tax foreclosures.
Kelly Parker experienced this when she asked the City of Detroit about special programs for low-income homeowners. She was told there were no such programs.
The groups argue that the county is foreclosing based on fraudulent tax calculations. The suit also alleges that because the city is predominately African-America that these tax foreclosures and subsequent evictions create a “disparate impact.” Hence, it violates the Fair Housing Act.