Update: 10:17 p.m., March 16.
Detroit's 36th district court has temporarily halted evictions as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Chief Judge William C. McConico issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
“This is a difficult period for our entire community, and in an effort to avoid any additional hardship for those affected, it is important that we halt residential evictions at this time. As everyone is strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and, if applicable, self-quarantine, during this period, it would be unwise and mean-spirited to remove people from their homes until this threat has passed.”
Original post: 2:41 p.m., March 16.
Wayne County has announced it will suspend tax foreclosures this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak's anticipated impact on the economy.
Around 10,000 properties — 3,200 of them occupied homes — were likely headed for the fall tax auction, the Free Press reports, citing a spokesman for the Wayne County Treasurer. Most of those properties are in Detroit.
"In light of the rapidly changing recommendations on social distancing and the increasing economic uncertainty we are all facing, I have had to make an urgent decision to protect all the taxpayers facing foreclosure in Wayne County," treasurer Eric Sabree said in a statement. "Given the fact that all taxpayers will be facing economic hardships in the coming months, I have made the decision to withhold all properties from the 2020 foreclosure petition."
Approximately 1 in every 3 Detroit properties have been foreclosed over the last decade, a crisis caused in part by the failings of city government. Approximately 63,000 homes with delinquent bills as of last fall were taxed an average $3,700 in excess of what they truly owed between 2010 and 2016, according to a January report by The Detroit News. The city has also previously been accused of making poverty exemptions too difficult to obtain. Tens of thousands of homeowners are believed eligible, but fewer that 8,000 have the exemption.
Residents, activists and academics have for years called for a moratorium on tax foreclosures. In addition to their belief that the practice is unjust given the context, it also drags down neighborhoods by fueling speculation and blight.
Detroit water shutoffs are also on pause for the duration of the pandemic.