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Training: Winning Community Control through CLTs

renter-nation-logo-full-clrHi Friends,

We hope you can join this excellent conversation/training. Please feel free to share through your networks—it is free and there will be excellent resources and information shared with those who register.

Rev. Joan Ross (Storehouse of Hope CLT) and Aaron Handelsman (Detroit People’s Platform) are presenting with a team of 4 others on a national training on urban CLTs with our partners at Right to the City this Weds, 3/30 at 3pm. A few other wonderful groups are co-presenting, including the Centro Autónomo in Chicago, who are close friends and allies. There will be some great conversation and discussion, as the presentation piece is only 20 mins and then there will be an hour for Q&A.

Here’s more info and the link to register:

#RenterNation Online Training Series No.3:
Winning Community Control through Community Land Trusts
DATE:  Wednesday, March 30
TIME:  3 ET/2 CT/1 MT/12 PT — Call will be 90 minutes
REGISTER HERE: anymeeting.com/PIID=EC54DC8081483D
CALL IN #:  To be sent out to all registrants

One of Homes For All’s (HFA) core principles is that to win Homes For All we need to win local democratic COMMUNITY CONTROLLED affordable housing.  Across the country, HFA partners are working with the National Community Land Trust Network, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and Burlington Associates to develop cutting edge new models for launching Community Land Trusts to win control over land & housing in working class and communities of color communities and create affordable housing including rentals, common resources and more! From Chinatown in Boston to Detroit, MI, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD Jackson, MS and New York CLT’s are are an innovative way to organize entire neighborhoods of directly impacted residents and push forward the fight for Homes For All!

Join the call to learn more about CLT’s, approaches to shifting municipal policy to fund CLT’s and hear from HFA partners launching CLT campaigns in cities across the country!

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Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust: An Update

RevRoss564x198By Reverend Joan C. Ross

It has been three months to the date that we received the final deeds for the properties purchase from what was the largest tax foreclosure auction in the history of our country. The purchase of 14 properties was made possible by the successful fundraising efforts of the Detroit People’s Platform and the Storehouse of Hope Client’s Choice Food Pantry and a host of really faith-filled, believing partners, supporters and friends.

The campaign was called “Keep Our Homes Detroit” and was launch under a Go Fund Me campaign which lasted eight days. In the auction it was estimated that there were nearly 8,000 of the homes which still had families still leaving in those homes. Our goal was to keep as many families in their homes and not see more displacement happen. The effort brought out 321 supporters from all over the world and raised over $108,000. Prior to this campaign, we had received support from local partners and had raised $40,000 which enabled us to purchase one additional property, bringing our total to 15 properties purchased to.

But what we want to report on today is the progress that has been made over the past three months. And believe me, we have been busy. Our vision was to establish the first Community Land Trust in Detroit (CLT’s as they are called). You can learn more about CLT’s on our website: www.thestorehouseofhope.org.

Our first effort was to get to the families (once we had clear ownership of the properties) and educate them to the vision that we have for CLT and how the goal was to keep them in their homes. So we invited each family to attend the Annual Dinner for the Storehouse of Hope which was held on November 6th. As of now, ten of the houses are participating and are excited about the CLT, one elderly gentlemen had moved out and into a senior community (he said he’d move back once he heard about the CLT, but we think it was best for him to stay put, but four families have not responded to any contact that we have made. It is very likely that those families moved out or “self-evicted” themselves once they heard about the auction happening. But now, without their coming forward, we will have to follow the normal procedure to get possession of those properties.

Several of the families came to the dinner and we shared with them the Street of Dreams film. This movie was put together by four CLT communities who are “vintage” CLT’s. If you haven’t seen this film, we encourage you to contact the Citywide CLT Coalition (Aaron Handelsman oversees that convening) conducted by the People’s Platform and arrange for a showing. It will certainly change your block club or local group’s perspective on community development.

The Board of Directors of the Storehouse of Hope, at their Annual Dinner Meeting voted to create the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust (SOHCLT). Storehouse of Hope is a 501 C 3 organization which has operated successfully in the North End since 2008, when it was organized as a Client’s Choice Emergency Food Pantry. At its peak, Storehouse of Hope serves nearly 3,000 families annually.

The board also approved the hiring of someone to attend to the work of establishing and building the CLT. We needed someone on board who would be working directly with the families and assisting them with what CLT’s call “Stewardship”. Stewardship refers to being responsible for the families and seeing that the CLT assist them in meeting their needs and causing them to be successful. The “stewardship” element is what creates community.   It’s what sets a CLT apart from just selling a house and walking away or in just being a landlord. Penni Johnson, was selected for the position. Penni is the managing member of Purpose Driven Deliverables and is filling the position as an outside contractor position through her company. She had over 10 years with NSO and had worked with the Storehouse of Hope and other local organizations in capacity building work in a grant funded by NSO. Mrs. Johnson’s job is the day to day contact, and support for the families. Her title is Stewardship Administrator.

Well here’s where the work gets started. Each house had to be assessed and intake information had to be gathered on each household. Many of the families were in houses without heat, water and in some cases, no other utilities. As of this writing we have accessed and made essential repairs on five house, four of which had to have furnaces.

Essential repairs, are just that. Getting heat and water to the properties and making sure that the families can get in and out of the houses. A couple of them have had break-ins and so have boarded doors in what they hoped was a secure manner. Most of those “secure” manners would have trapped them in and in case of emergency, they would not have been able to escape. No cosmetic repairs have been done and outside assessments will be done in the spring. We had a family, mother and young daughter sleeping in their car with the engine running to keep warm. We have spent an average of $4,500 per house and we still have five houses to go. And there is the unknown condition of the other five.

SHHCLTMAPAnother thing that we have done is thanks to the generous donations of Linda Campbell and Simeon Maycock (Maycock Construction Services), we have received some much needed furniture for the families. That best expresses community. We had families that needed beds and living room furniture and we put out a call and got their needs met.

Certainly, this Blog leaves you with more questions. Much of this we are learning as we go. We can say that the families that are working with us are excited. Repairs they never thought they could get done have been done. The families are serving on a committee with the Storehouse of Hope Board Members to establish the policies and procedures for the CLT. Several of them have been interviewed by a couple of national magazines and while they may not have all the answers they know that it is better to work in community than to stand it alone.

One final thing. We are now organizing our CLT by districts and are planning our first community activity called Rake n’ Run. This is a neighborhood clean-up party and planting scheduled for late April or early May. We will need volunteers. Stay tuned for details.

We are attaching a map, not with the addresses of the properties but with how the properties layout by districts. So we encourage you to support the first CLT in Detroit, pray for the families as you pray for our city and visit our website and stay connected with the People’s Platform. Continue to strive for “equity” for us and know that surviving just isn’t enough.

We are going to thrive and grow.

And we will build them as at the first.”

Submitted by:
Reverend Joan C. Ross
Board Chair, Storehouse of Hope
& Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust

KOHDSQ

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#ShowMeTheDeed Stop Illegal Evictions!

ShowMeTheDeedSmall#ShowMeTheDeed

If your home has been sold in the recent Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction
YOU STILL HAVE RIGHTS!
You DO NOT have to leave
 your home immediately.
Law requires the buyer has to receive the Deed from the County and must have a Court Order to Evict from the 36th District Court.

To report illegal evictions or threats call (313)224-7337 or (313)224-2615
If an illegal eviction is in progress CALL 911

Take action on your behalf immediately! Here are 3 resources:

1. Contact the Wayne County Treasurer to VERIFY the sale
Wayne County Treasurer
International Center
400 Monroe, 5th Floor
Detroit, MI 48226
www.waynecounty.com/treasurer/index.htm
(313) 224-5990
taxinfo@waynecounty.com

2. Gather notices and info about the house and call UCHC
United Community Housing Coalition
220 Bagley, Suite 224
Detroit, MI 48226
www.uchcdetroit.org
(313) 963-3310
uchc123@sbcglobal.net

3. Contact MWRO for support and to learn about other resources
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO)
23 E. Adams St., 4th Floor
Detroit, MI 48226
www.mwro.org
(313) 964-0618
info@
mwro.org

Stop Illegal Evictions

Prepared by Detroit People’s Platform detroitpeoplesplatform.org @detroitpeoples 313.338.9396

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Donate Today! – Keep Our Homes Detroit

Donate Today! – Keep Our Homes Detroit

25,000 homes in Detroit are up for auction and at least 8,000 of them are occupied.

To Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ourhomesdetroit

Our Goal: Raise $100,000 to help keep Detroit families in their homes permanently as part of the Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust. Take action today! The Wayne County Foreclosure Auction ends October 22nd, 2015

How It Works: The money we raise will be used to keep Detroit families in their homes. Many occupied homes were purchased last year for as little as $1,700—you can see how much impact each dollar you donate will have. All additional funds raised beyond the cost of purchase will go into repairs to the home and paying 2015 taxes.

We have the the opportunity to keep Detroit families in their houses. But we only have 10 days to do it.

Will you donate to keep Detroit families in their homes?

To Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ourhomesdetroit

Through frequent updates we’ll be meeting some familes participating in Keep Our Homes Detroit and share our the results of our bidding in the auction.

VIDEO – ‘Nothing Like It’ The Houstons

Video Credits: Kate Levy

Detroit residents are undergoing the largest mass tax foreclosure crisis in US history. In the next 10 days –until October 22—up to 8,000 occupied Detroit homes Detroit will sell for an estimated average bid of $2,400 at the Wayne County Treasurer’s Auction of Tax-Foreclosed Properties.

Detroit People’s Platform and Storehouse of Hope Community Land Trust are teaming up to purchase occupied homes in the auction and secure them permanently in a Community Land Trust (CLT) so families can stay in their homes and we can ensure that these properties remain permanently the off marketplace and out of the hands of speculators. Families participating in the program have been connected through the United Community Housing Coalition. UCHC provides free housing resources for low and no-income Detroiters.

We’ve reached a vital moment where we can beat the auction at its own game and buy land to 1) keep families housed and 2) place more homes in a community land trust that will ensure these homes remain permanently affordable and safe from speculation.

To Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ourhomesdetroit

VIDEO – ‘I am Detroit’ Mr. Gerardo

Video Credits: Kate Levy

A Hurricane Without Water: Detroit’s Tax Foreclosure Crisis

In 2015, nearly 37, 000 occupied Detroit homes were foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments, exorbitant interest rates, and disputed water bill liens. Long-time residents are the heart and soul of Detroit. Ongoing displacement of our families from mortgage and tax foreclosures has been devastating. Public services are being cut and privatized, and Detroiters are being pushed out of their generational homes.

This has only been possible because of the erosion of effective governance in Wayne County and Detroit, where our leaders have decided it is better to have vacant, empty structures subject to scrapping than low-income families in homes. This campaign is more than about saving our homes, it’s about restoring our democratic power and asserting our dignity.

Here’s how: Each participating family whose home is secured through the land trust will also make a commitment to playing an active role in Detroit’s housing rights movement and the #Homes4All Campaign. Homes4all will facilitate weekly workshops on foreclosure danger, how to build power to change some of the rules that created this massive foreclosure crisis in the first place, such as the laws that make income-based property exemptions difficult to obtain and retain; the government’s inability or unwillingness to send residents accurate tax bills that reflect the true value of the property, and not inflated, 2007 values.

These weekly meetings will be modeled around the PAH, in Spain, which in three years has seeded 220 independent associations within Spain, stopped thousands of unjust evictions, and resulted in an unprecedented rise in the political power of those most directly impacted by unjust laws, so much so that the PAH’s members were elected as mayors of Spain’s three largest cities, Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia just this year.

For us, this is about more than homes: it’s about power, about movement, and about proving that we are the ones we have been waiting for—we are here to build the world we know is possible; one built on the interests of people over profit, the good of the community over the good of the individual, democratic self-governance, dignity and high quality of life for all, and sustainability.

We believe that community control of land is necessary and possible. As displacement accelerates in Detroit, we will protect our communities by prioritizing the fight for permanently affordable housing, community control of land, and systems of mutual aid and support that grow our power, our voice, and our dignity.

These next 10 days are critical.  At a low cost, we can ensure that families stay in their homes and enable the community to regain permanently affordable housing under a community land trust. Please donate to keep a family in their home. The bidding opens on October 15th and ends on October 22nd.

To Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/ourhomesdetroit

LEARN MORE

About Community Land Trusts (CLTs)
CLTs can serve as powerful tools for Detroiters to build assets and support grassroots, community-led development. The CLT is legally bound to keep its housing affordable during turbulent markets and thus provides an equitable buffer against gentrification while still allowing needed development to take place. CLTs focus on community ownership, access to affordable housing, preservation of public space, and fostering sustainable enterprises. They are proven to be an effective model to protect against the loss of housing through foreclosure, to support stabilizing community development, and to build wealth for the communities.

About Storehouse of Hope
Storehouse of Hope is a client-choice food pantry serving approximately 3,000 families in Detroit’s North End annually since 2008. The Storehouse of Hope as has been at the forefront of Detroit’s CLT movement, installing 10 residential, solar street lights in the North End which property owners placed in a community land trust to democratize energy ownership and production. In fall 2015, Storehouse purchased land to create Detroit’s first and only community land trust to ensure permanently affordable housing in the area and is working on securing space to build out a permanent pantry for all North End residents to use. The land underneath the pantry would also be owned by the community land trust.

About Detroit People’s Platform
Detroit People’s Platform is a membership-based, city-wide, district-organized, issue-focused advocacy group committed to building power and movement with the residents most directly impacted by social injustice. Since 2013, we have grown a network of over 3,000  Detroiters, with 300 members and about 20 active Caucus Leaders. DPP has held community control of land and equitable development without displacement as core values and promotes the development of community land trusts (CLTs) in Detroit and is a member of Right to the City Alliance, Homes for All Campaign, and the National Community Land Trust Network.

About United Community Housing Coalition
The United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) is a nonprofit comprehensive housing assistance organization which has provided a variety of housing-related services to Detroit’s low-income residents since 1973. UCHC is partnering with Detroit People’s Platform in this campaign to identify participating families.

About Detroit’s Foreclosure Crisis (links)

One-Fifth of Detroit’s Population Could Lose Their Homes

Detroit Braces for Foreclosure Crisis  (with additional links at the end of the article) Includes findings such as:

*More than half of all bank-foreclosed homes are blighted in Detroit. The cost to taxpayers: $500 million. Explore a database and map of tax-foreclosed homes in Detroit

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Auto Wreck Survivor Resorts to Hunger Strike to Reclaim Home

Federal authorities sold the home despite owner’s good faith and judge’s request

DETROIT – Disabled teacher, Baxter Jones has jumped through “hoops of fire” with federal housing authorities to keep his home from foreclosure; but the quasi-governmental agency Fannie Mae sold the house out from under him despite a judge’s request. After 9 years of payments and 4 years of legal wrangling, he has resorted to a hunger strike to shine a light on the injustice of his home being taken from him.

“I feel disenfranchised, constantly jumping through hoops of fire and being burned. I paid all that money and I have nothing to show for it,” said Baxter Jones. Federal housing authorities have stonewalled me at every turn. I can no longer accept this injustice. I do not want this to happen to another American citizen, so despite my health issues, as a Godly man, I have decided to engage in a hunger strike for justice.”

Jones bought his home via a First Responder Program after 9/11. He paid his mortgage timely until a severe auto accident hospitalized him and left him with brain, spinal cord damage and using a wheelchair. After the accident, Jones managed to keep his mortgage current for 5 years, until he lost his job due to his disability. On August 28, 2015, Judge Joseph Filip noticed Jones’ heroic and good faith effort to pay for his home while working to overcome his injuries. He asked Trott & Trott, Fannie Mae’s lawyers to work with Jones over a 60-day period to keep him in his home. In 2013 Friends of Baxter Jones presented a letter and ability to pay $60,000 cash, which was $2,000 over market value. Trott & Trott responded demanding no less than $254,000.

“This hunger strike, like the hunger strikes of Caesar Chavez and Gandhi, places my spiritual discipline on the front lines, in hope that a higher power may compel hearts and minds to yield towards justice and humanity over greed,” says Baxter Jones.

Jones has experienced a string of bad experiences with Government authority.  State authority overtook citizens voting rights at Detroit schools, where he was working as a teacher. His teaching job was taken away while he was still on Family Medical Leave by State appointed Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb.  Bobb would not agree to accommodate Jones’ disability. Jones feels the lack of democracy and teacher pay cuts in Michigan leaves many more DPS teachers in harm’s way.

“I hope to shine a light on all American families in my situation,” said Baxter Jones. There’s actually a buy-back program to give people the chance to repurchase their homes at market value. I made a good faith offer, but Fannie Mae chose greed over doing what’s right. Some say, ‘Baxter, we are worried about your health.’ I will let the power of God test my life, and pray fervently that He sees the goodness and worthiness in me, an American who has worked and paid taxes and only asked that I be allowed the simple fairness the Judge requested of Fannie Mae: to work with me in consideration of the $190,000 I’ve already paid. My home is all I have in this world.”

The buy-back program Jones referenced was designed to stem the tide of economic and social displacement that came with the foreclosure crisis of 2007.  It allows those in danger of having their homes taken to purchase the foreclosed home at market value. Fannie Mae was given a bail out by the Federal Government after the housing crash. There are several red flags with this sale:

  • ·         The sale was abnormally quick: The entire deal including closing took place between July 28 (date of the Judge’s request) and August 31.
  • ·         Trott & Trott lawyers for Fannie Mae declared the house was worth $58,000, but refused Jones’ cash offer of $60,000.
  • ·         Trott & Trott demanded Jones pay $254,000 for his home despite declaring in court, the home was only worth $58,000.
  • ·         Trott & Trott recently sold the house to someone else for $100,000 which is less than the $255,000 they demanded Jones pay.

Baxter spokeswoman, Madison Paige says, “This is a terrible situation, because no one who cares about Baxter wants him on this strike. Despite our pleas, his mind is made up, and he is putting it in God’s hands. Congressman Walberg’s staff has been attentive to concerns for Baxter’s health. We will do all we can to accommodate Baxter’s request to our office, in hopes to resolve this as swiftly and safely as possible. ”

Baxter Jones, a human rights activist says, “I have to rely on regular good folks, who believe in justice to call Fannie Mae, to hold them accountable to do the right thing. I should be able to buy back my house at market rate. I pray this happens to no one else.”

Jones’ home is on Rexford Road in Jackson, Michigan. He is asking friends and supporters to contact Katrina Jones, (not related) of Fannie Mae at 215-575-1400 or email katrina_jones@fanniemae.com and demand that he be allowed to reclaim his home at 8789. Please refer to FHFA file# H-15-1408.

For more information – Visit Baxter on Facebook:

 Advocates for Baxter

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Advocates-4-Baxter-A4B/819692174746383?sk=info&tab=page_info

On YouTube:

Baxter Jones vs. Fannie Mae

 

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TONIGHT! International Dialog on Housing and Water and Riverside Park Public Hearing

Just Announced! International Dialog on Housing and Water. We the People of Detroit and Detroit People’s Platform are honored to receive Ambassador Carlos Ron from the Venezuelan Embassy on behalf of the People of Detroit. Please come and be a part of a discussion of the best practices regarding Detroit’s housing and water issues and those of our friends and neighbors in Venezuela.

Reception at 5PM, discussion 6pm.
Tonight! Monday June 29, 2015 at
St. Peters Episcopal Church
1950 Trumbull at Michigan Ave.

venezuela housing and water

Also TONIGHT, the Detroit City Council Planning and Economic Development Committee will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed Riverside Park Land Exchange Agreement. This deal will have a significant impact on our community, District 6 and our city.

TONIGHT! Monday, June 29, 6 p.m.
Western International High School
1500 Scotten Ave.

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Update: Wayne County Extends Foreclosure Deadline – Council Resolution and VIDEO: Prayer Vigil

April 1, 2015

Detroit People’s Platform Members and Supporters,

Yesterday, March 31st, The Detroit News announced “Wayne County extends foreclosure deadline to May 12.”

While we recognize this as an opportunity for more people to stay in their homes, this is not the victory that Detroit People’s Platform and many other advocates are fighting for, which is a one year moratorium on all tax foreclosures of occupied homes.

Yesterday. Detroit City Council also passed a resolution on the tax foreclosure crisis after residents and community groups rallied and spoke out about the crisis. The Councils’ Resolution can be read here.

More: Detroiters Working to Keep Families in their Homes Pack Council Meeting

Yesterday’s action by the Wayne County Treasurer may provide relief for some families who were unable to make the March 31st deadline, however it does not meet the demands that we and other advocates have called for including:

  • That a halt be placed on all Tax Foreclosures for a minimum of one year.
  • That the City Assessors complete their lawful duties and responsibilities, reassess all property values and roll back property tax debt of owner/occupants to compensate for City’s failure to properly and fairly “reassess” property taxes. Establish a fair and simplified tax assessment process and year-round application for tax reassessment.
  • Remove all tax liens for past-due water bills.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with Detroiters and fight for a moratorium on the unfair and unjust tax foreclosures. Please stay tuned for opportunities to engage in future actions from the Detroit People’s Platform as we move into the second phase of our Detroit Homes for All Campaign. 

VIDEO: Prayer Vigil for Those About to Lose Their Homes

PeoplesVigilHeadersmPrayer Vigil Statement from People’s Platform

“We call on all people of faith and of compassion to join together with us in solidarity to lift up those who face foreclosure and that our elected officials find the wisdom in and take action on our demands.

People’s Platform Members and Supporters,

We deeply thank you for answering the call and joining us this evening. We recognize your commitment to this issue by your presence and also your trust in doing so without knowing all of the details.

Detroit, the largest majority African-American major city in the country now faces the largest forced housing eviction, possibly in the history of the United States. Wayne County Treasurer Wojtowicz is preparing to foreclose on 37,000 occupied homes affecting nearly 100,000 people, the equivalent of 1/6 of the city’s population. Many Detroiters and Wayne County Residents are being foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments and disputed water bill liens. Persistent and high rates of unemployment, government cuts to services Detroiters rely on and increased displacement and forced relocation will result in enormous physical and mental stress and trauma on children and families. As of today, the Treasurer has not done that which is fully in his power, to stop the foreclosures.

Our intention, with your support is to peaceably and respectfully visit the home and neighborhood of Wayne County Treasurer-Elect Wojtowicz.  At the staging we will share the Prayer Vigil Agreements and the details for arrival and departure.

It is also our intention that this vigil passionately address Raymond Wojtowicz, the human being, not the elected official, so that he may be visited by our prayers, thoughts and wisdom through the night, that he may awaken to his power with the morning and take action on our demands and stop the foreclosure on occupied homes, on our families, on his neighbors.

When we wake we invite you to join us in our call for a National Day of Outrage and with those who will take action in the streets Downtown.

In Solidarity and Gratitude,
The Detroit People’s Platform Team

Photostory: Detroiters About to Lose Their Homes Visit the Home of the Wayne County Treasurer for Prayer Vigil

Detroit, the largest majority African-American major city in the country now faces the largest forced housing eviction, possibly in the history of the United States. Wayne County Treasurer Wojtowicz is preparing to foreclose on 37,000 occupied homes affecting nearly 100,000 people, the equivalent of 1/6 of the city’s population. Many Detroiters and Wayne County Residents are being foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments and disputed water bill liens. Persistent and high rates of unemployment, government cuts to services Detroiters rely on and increased displacement and forced relocation will result in enormous physical and mental stress and trauma on children and families. As of today, the Treasurer has not done that which is fully in his power, to stop the foreclosures.

IMG_1510To build community trust and unity of expression and intent, vigil agreements we proposed and accepted when those participating staged the action at Eastern Market. The location of the vigil, the Wayne County Treasurers home, was not announced publicly until the participants began to get on the bus.

IMG_1533Denise Kennedy, of the Princeton Street Block Club and Rev Joan Ross of the Equitable Detroit Coalition attempt to deliver thousands of petitions to Raymond Wojtowicz, the Wayne County Treasurer who has the power to stop the largest mass tax foreclosure in US history. The woman who answered the door refused to accept the petitions and told Mrs Kennedy and Rev Ross to get off the porch.

IMG_1540Last night 50 Detroiters and Wayne County residents visited the home of Raymond Wojtowicz, the Wayne County Treasurer who has the power to stop the largest mass tax foreclosure in US history.

IMG_1566

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Breaking! Wayne County extends foreclosure deadline to May 12

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2015/03/31/wayne-county-property-tax-deadline/70722084/

Wayne County extends foreclosure deadline to May 12

Detroit — Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz announced Tuesday afternoon he’s extending the deadline to May 12 for homeowners to pay their delinquent taxes and avoid foreclosure.

The move comes the same day the Detroit City Council passed a resolution urging his office to enact a moratorium members said would create more time for legislative steps aimed at tax relief.

Hundreds of property owners packed the treasurer’s offices Tuesday, which officials had said was the deadline to pay and avoid losing their homes. Those living in homes they own now have until May 12 to pay. Foreclosed properties are auctioned in the fall.

“We continue to do all we can to help taxpayers avoid foreclosure,” Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon. “This is one step to make sure people can access the new programs granted by the legislature to reduce interest and save their homes.”

Recent legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder allows the treasurer to lower interest on debt from 18 percent to 6 percent for many homeowners. In many instances, homeowners can have taxes capped at a quarter of the market value of the home.

Wojtowicz is pursuing a record number of foreclosures this year, but his staff has said halting the process would only allow people to get further behind.

In June, the office started the foreclosure process on nearly 75,000 properties, the vast majority in Detroit. But as of mid-March, half of those property owners had paid or were in payment plans or other programs.

Of the remaining 38,000 facing foreclosure, about 16,000 are estimated to be occupied, Szymanski said. He expected that number to dwindle further after Tuesday.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also announced Tuesday afternoon a new effort to give homeowners some relief on 2015 taxes.

The city will waive interest and penalties on 2015 taxes for homeowners in a county payment plan that reduced their interest rate, as long as they pay 2015 taxes by February 2016.

“It is my desire to encourage responsible home ownership in Detroit and to support taxpayers in remaining compliant with Treasurer Wojtowicz’s payment plans,” Duggan said in a release.

Nonprofits, the treasurer and other groups held numerous workshops over the past few months to get homeowners into payment plans to avoid foreclosure.

Around noon Tuesday outside the treasurer’s Greektown offices, a couple of dozen protesters held signs and chanted. Activists also picketed Wojtowicz’s home Monday night.

Surquetta Morgan, 38, showed up Tuesday in hopes of preventing her foreclosure. She said her husband recently died and she is worried about losing the home they shared for 17 years over her estimated $4,000 tax debt. She said if she’s homeless, she’s scared protective services will come for her two small children.

“I am worried my house is going to get taken. My kids are going to get taken,” Morgan said. “I am just praying.”

Housing advocates argued there wasn’t enough time to help everyone and pressed for a temporary halt on the foreclosures.

“This is a state of emergency,” Abayomi Azikiwe, of the Moratorium Now coalition of groups working to stop foreclosures, told the Wayne County Commission in March. “Ten thousand people could be removed from their homes if something isn’t done.”

Szymanski called that a “tremendous exaggeration.” The county doesn’t evict homeowners, he said, adding he’s “cautiously optimistic” most owner-occupants will be able to remain in their homes.

“We want people to stay in their homes,” he said. “If they can’t afford payments, go ahead and don’t pay taxes until the auction. You are living there rent-free. Hopefully, the new owner can say ‘Hey, do you want to rent from me’ and there will be an orderly transition.”

The foreclosures are a record. Last year, the county had 23,303, up from 18,771 in 2013 and 20,062 in 2012. Szymanski said most foreclosed properties are abandoned and there is no good argument to allow people who don’t pay taxes to avoid foreclosure.

“The property receives government services — streetlights, police and fire protection, local schools and trash,” he said. “If you don’t pay your taxes, your neighbor is subsidizing you.”

Advocates argue that foreclosure leads to blight, which costs residents millions to clean up. They also are concerned that poor, old people will lose their homes.

“You are never going to stop the blight until you stop the foreclosures,” said Dawn DeRose, a social worker who volunteers with Detroit Eviction Defense. “What kind of government are we having here in Detroit if you turn 80-year-olds out of their home?’

The council wanted time to advocate for changes in Lansing that would allow the city more time to grant poverty exemptions and review property tax appeals.

“The city’s prosperity in its post-bankruptcy world, and in fact, its survival, depends on population and community economic growth — the very opposite of the demise of existing neighborhoods,” the resolution passed Tuesday read.

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Photostory: Detroiters About to Lose Their Homes Visit the Home of the Wayne County Treasurer for Prayer Vigil

Photostory: Detroiters About to Lose Their Homes Visit the Home of the Wayne County Treasurer for Prayer Vigil

Detroit, the largest majority African-American major city in the country now faces the largest forced housing eviction, possibly in the history of the United States. Wayne County Treasurer Wojtowicz is preparing to foreclose on 37,000 occupied homes affecting nearly 100,000 people, the equivalent of 1/6 of the city’s population. Many Detroiters and Wayne County Residents are being foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments and disputed water bill liens. Persistent and high rates of unemployment, government cuts to services Detroiters rely on and increased displacement and forced relocation will result in enormous physical and mental stress and trauma on children and families. As of today, the Treasurer has not done that which is fully in his power, to stop the foreclosures.

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To build community trust and unity of expression and intent, vigil agreements we proposed and accepted when those participating staged the action at Eastern Market. The location of the vigil, the Wayne County Treasurers home, was not announced publicly until the participants began to get on the bus.

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Denise Kennedy, of the Princeton Street Block Club and Rev Joan Ross of the Equitable Detroit Coalition attempt to deliver thousands of petitions to Raymond Wojtowicz, the Wayne County Treasurer who has the power to stop the largest mass tax foreclosure in US history. The woman who answered the door refused to accept the petitions and told Mrs Kennedy and Rev Ross to get off the porch.

IMG_1540Last night 50 Detroiters and Wayne County residents visited the home of Raymond Wojtowicz, the Wayne County Treasurer who has the power to stop the largest mass tax foreclosure in US history.

IMG_1566Today, Tuesday March 31st, Join Detroit People’s Platform members and supporters in our Call for National Outrage!

People from around the country are flooding Detroit Mayor Duggan’s office with calls, messages and on social media demand he remove all tax liens for past-due water bills. They are also be calling, messaging and addressing Wayne County Treasurer-Elect Wojtowicz (Voy Toe Vich) on social media to demand that he stop the displacement of families in the largest tax foreclosure in one city, at one time, in US history.

Mayor Duggan
(313) 224-3400
emailmayorduggan@detroitmi.gov
@MayorMikeDuggan

Treasurer-Elect Wojtowicz
(313) 224-5990
taxinfo@waynecounty.com
@waynecountymi

#PeoplesPlatform #OurCity

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Action Alert: Monday 6pm Prayer Vigil for Those About to Lose Their Homes

Tax Foreclosure Action Alert

PeoplesVigil

Monday, 6pm Prayer Vigil for those about to lose their homes.
The details of the vigil’s location will be released Monday at noon through social media and the People’s Platform Hotline, 313.338.9396.

Tuesday, National Action to contact Mayor Duggan (313) 224-3400 to demand he remove all tax liens for past-due water bills and Treasurer-Elect Wojtowicz (313) 224-5990 to demand that he stop the displacement of families in the largest tax foreclosure in one city, at one time, in US history.

#PeoplesVigil #ForeclosureStop #OurCity

Detroit families, housing advocates, are taking back our city on Monday, demanding Wayne County Treasurer-Elect Raymond J. Wojtowicz halt the tax foreclosure on 37,000 families

People’s Platform Members and Supporters,

On Monday, March 30th at 6pm Detroit and Wayne County residents affected by tax foreclosure, along with Detroit People’s Platform members and supporters will hold a prayer vigil for those facing eviction and displacement from their homes. We call on all people of faith and of compassion to join together with us in solidarity to lift up those who face foreclosure and for our elected officials to find the wisdom in and take action on our demands. The details of the action will be shared the morning of the vigil through social media and the People’s Platform Hotline, 313.338.9396.

On Tuesday, March 31st, in addition to actions on the streets of Detroit, People’s Platform Members and supporters with lead a campaign with national partners Right To The City to call Mayor Duggan and demand that he remove all tax liens for past-due water bills and Wayne County Treasurer-Elect Wojtowicz demanding that he stop the largest tax foreclosure in one city, at one time, in US history.

Detroit, the largest majority African-American major city in the country now faces the largest forced housing eviction, possibly in the history of the United States. Wayne County Treasurer Wojtowicz is preparing to foreclose on 37,000 occupied homes affecting nearly 100,000 people, the equivalent of 1/6 of the city’s population. Many Detroiters and Wayne County Residents are being foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments and disputed water bill liens. Persistent and high rates of unemployment, government cuts to services Detroiters rely on and increased displacement and forced relocation will result in enormous physical and mental stress and trauma on children and families.

Updates:

Last Thursday, March 25th, residents being foreclosed on, members of the Detroit People’s Platform and other housing advocates met with Chief Deputy Treasurer Dave Szymanski in an effort to keep Detro­iters in their homes.  The group delivered thousands of petitions generated both nationally by the Right to the City Alliance and locally by the Detroit People’s Platform and allied organizations. The delegation delivered a set of demands that include a halt to tax foreclosures.

Last Tuesday, March 23rd, residents packed Detroit City Council meeting with testimony from families threatened with foreclosure as well as some who had already lost their homes. Council Member Castañeda-López requested a Detroit City Council Resolution on the Foreclosure Crisis on Monday.  Only days before the March 31st deadline, the Council is expected to pass their resolution.

Sign the Petition!

Take ActionWayne County Treasurer-elect Wojtowicz is in charge of foreclosing on 37,000 occupied homes for overdue property taxes on March 31st, affecting nearly 100,000 people. This represents the largest mass tax foreclosure in US history in one city at one time. Treasurer Wojtowicz has the power to stop it.

Detroiters are being foreclosed upon due to incorrect tax bills with exaggerated property assessments and disputed water bill liens.

Long-time residents are the heart and soul of Detroit. Ongoing displacement of our families from mortgage and tax foreclosures has been devastating. Public services are being cut and privatized, and Detroiters are being pushed out of their generational homes. To now lose another 100,000 residents would cut the city’s total population by 1/6 and tear a hole in the city’s cultural and economic fabric that can never be replaced.

Sign the petition to let the Wayne County Treasurer know that 100,000 Detroit residents need a place to call home!