Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program offers tax relief to eligible Detroiters

• Income-eligible homeowners may have 2018 property taxes waived
• City has mailed applications to 3,700 property owners behind on 2017 taxes as part of stepped up effort to help Detroiters stay in their homes

DETROIT - The City of Detroit is taking a proactive approach to helping homeowners avoid the threat of foreclosure. This week, thousands of Detroiters who are delinquent on their 2017 property taxes will receive Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program applications to determine whether they qualify for tax relief.

The Office of the Assessor has proactively mailed out 3,741 applications to all homeowners who are delinquent on their 2017 property taxes and have not already requested an application. The Assessor has mailed out another 5,000 applications based on requests that have come into the office.

Detroit’s property tax exemption for low-income households can reduce or eliminate property taxes on homes, depending on the occupants’ income levels and the number of people living in the home.
The City has taken the additional step this year of mailing to delinquent taxpayers as part of its increased efforts to reach Detroiters who may be on a path to foreclosure. If a property owner is fails to pay property taxes for three years, they are subject to foreclosure by Wayne County.

“We want to help Detroiters stay in their homes, and a big part of that is reaching out to people when they first fall behind on their taxes,” said Deputy Chief Financial Officer/Assessor, Alvin Horhn, who added that homeowners don’t have to be behind on their taxes to be eligible for the exemption. “We encourage any homeowners who think they may qualify for the hardship exemption this year based on their income to reach out to us immediately.”

How it works
The letter sent from the Office of the Assessor alerts homeowners of their tax delinquency and advises them that they may be eligible for help through the Detroit Homeowner’s Property Tax Assistance Program. Homeowners must apply for the assistance by Dec. 10, 2018, to be considered.

Depending on applicants’ income levels, they may be granted either a half-exemption, or a full exemption. The number of hardship applications approved by the city has grown steadily each year, from 3,800 in 2014 to more than 5,200 in 2017. Nearly 3,300 applications have been approved so far this year, although thousands more likely are eligible, based on U.S. Census data.

Who qualifies?
While recognizing that there is no universally agreed upon measurement as to what constitutes poverty, the Detroit Board of Review has established the following maximum eligible income as a “guideline” and as an aid in eliminating subjective judgments for reviewing 2018 petitions:

How to apply

Homeowners who have questions about the Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program or wish to receive an application may call the Office of the Assessor at 313-224-3035 or the Detroit Board of Review at 313-628-0723. The application also is available on the City’s website.

Detroit foreclosures continue steady decline
In 2017, the total number of foreclosures on occupied and vacant homes in Detroit caused by nonpayment of taxes declined to the lowest level since the 2008 housing collapse, to 6,315. That was a drop of 70% from 24,793 in 2015. The decrease was even greater for owner-occupied homes, which fell 88% to 786 foreclosures, from 6,408 in 2015.

The new outreach to delinquent taxpayers is one of a number of actions taken by the City and other groups to prevent foreclosures. Last fall, the Quicken Loans Community Investment Fund launched a $500,000 partnership with more than 30 community organizations, United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) and the City of Detroit to reach out to thousands of households in Detroit, at least one year behind on their taxes, to help them apply for hardship exemptions and other assistance programs.

In addition, the City has worked closely with the Wayne County Treasurer and UCHC to reach out to thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure to help get them enrolled in the reduced-interest payment plans for back taxes.

In 2016, Detroit completed its first comprehensive citywide reassessment of property values in 60 years so that residential home values more closely reflect market values, which fell steeply in the aftermath of the 2008 national housing collapse and subsequent recession.





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