Detroit Rises as City Council Unanimously Passes Groundbreaking Resolutions Towards Property Tax Equity

Detroit’s City Council, responding to a clarion call from the community and unsettling findings from a University of Chicago study, has unanimously passed two landmark resolutions aimed at halting foreclosures and correcting property assessments for homes valued under $34,700. This decisive action comes amid the backdrop of opposition from the Duggan administration, highlighting the Council’s commitment to addressing systemic injustices in the city’s property tax system.

The first resolution mandates Detroit City Assessor Alvin Horhn to slash assessments for these homes by 30 percent, a significant step towards rectifying the chronic issue of overvaluation that has burdened many Detroit homeowners. The second resolution urges Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree to suspend all foreclosures on owner-occupied homes falling within the same value bracket, offering a lifeline to residents at risk of losing their homes due to inflated tax bills.

The passage of these resolutions, a direct outcome of the relentless advocacy by the Coalition for Property Tax Justice, marks a critical movement in Detroit’s ongoing struggle with property tax fairness. The Coalition for Property Tax Justice is like a powerhouse team, bringing together more than fifteen community-rooted groups all focused on one big goal: putting an end to unfairly high property taxes and the wave of tax foreclosures that have been hitting Detroit hard.

Bernadette Atuahene, a key figure in this movement, lauded the Council’s decision, stating, “The City Council finally acknowledged the continued over assessments and unanimously demanded that the Duggan administration and the County Treasurer take action to correct the ongoing property tax injustice. Now Treasurer Sabree and the Duggan administration must follow these resolutions with action.”

But the resolutions’ success hinges on the actions of County Treasurer Eric Sabree and City Assessor Alvin Horhn. The question now is, will they heed the Council’s directive and address these pressing issues, or will they allow the cycle of illegal foreclosures and assessments to persist?

Owning a home is like planting roots in a community; it’s where you watch your family grow, create memories, and build a nest egg for the future. But for many Black families in Detroit, this dream feels out of reach. Imagine facing a maze of obstacles every step of the way, from unfair loan rates to homes being unfairly taxed, all because these homes are in neighborhoods that have been overlooked or undervalued for too long. And with Detroit being a city where 8 out of 10 residents are Black, these aren’t just isolated incidents—they’re part of a bigger picture that affects a lot of our neighbors, friends, and family.

In the heart of Detroit, the struggle isn’t just about getting the keys to a house; it’s about breaking down barriers that have been built up over generations. High property taxes and the threat of losing your home can make the goal of homeownership feel like a constantly moving target. It’s more than just numbers on a bill; it’s about the right to build a secure life in the place you call home. For the community here, fighting for fair homeownership isn’t just about property—it’s about justice, stability, and reclaiming a piece of the American Dream that everyone deserves a fair shot at.

“In Detroit we now have evidence that the lowest value homes – until this day – continue to be over-assessed and we are here to put a stop to it,” said Atuahene.

The urgency of the situation was underscored by U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who expressed deep concern over the persistent overassessment of Detroit’s most vulnerable homeowners. “I am deeply concerned that after years of community organizing and advocacy, testimonies from impacted residents, and legislative reforms, thousands of the most vulnerable Detroit homeowners are still being illegally over-assessed on their property taxes…Thankfully, the Property Tax Reform Ordinance was enacted to remedy this exact situation, and I hope City Council and the City of Detroit will take appropriate steps to fix these assessments and protect our residents.”

Echoing the sentiments of many, Council President Sheffield emphasized the critical nature of the issue, stating, “The most egregious part of the systematic over assessment of properties in Detroit has been this issue of regressivity. While we recognize that the Assessor’s job is difficult the stakes are too high to sit idly by while the lowest valued homes are consistently over assessed… Thus, I join the Coalition in calling for a moratorium on foreclosures for the homes valued under $34,700. I also join you in calling on the City’s Assessor to reduce the assessed values on all the homes valued at $34,700 and under.”

As the city awaits the implementation of these resolutions, the spotlight is on the Duggan administration and county officials to take decisive action.

With Detroit’s City Council standing united against systemic property tax injustices, a new chapter unfolds, promising a fairer horizon for homeownership. This critical stance, fueled by the relentless advocacy of community groups and backed by compelling research, challenges the status quo and paves the way for a future where every Detroit resident can truly plant roots without fear of unjust loss.

However, this turning point brings us face-to-face with essential questions about owning a home in Detroit and how fair the taxes on those homes really are. Are these changes the start of a new, more just way of doing things, or just the first step in a much longer fight? As the city watches and waits for these resolutions to take effect, the collective hope is that this moment marks not just a victory, but a turning point towards lasting equity and justice in the place so many call home.

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