Detroit Vacant Property Coalition — Area Boundaries, Foreclosure Stats, & Questions
Detroit has the measles. In the black box are 290 tax foreclosed properties coming up for auction within the Warren Avenue Community Organization boundaries:
Last week Janai Gilmore from Michigan Community Resources reached out and asked if I’d meet with and present to a group called the Detroit Vacant Property Coalition at 6:30 on September 11. Sure, sounds like something I’d do! :-) The point is:
“to talk about the work Loveland Technologies is doing to make property ownership information as well as information about tax foreclosed properties accessible for residents. Our members also have questions for you such as what you feel are the most effective ways to work with the city and the county to get information; how you update your data sets; and whether you are open to working with the community to address their data needs.”
I’m excited for this, so I went ahead and used Why Don’t We Own This? to draw boundaries over the areas of the city each of the coalition’s 17 member groups represent (minus a couple I couldn’t figure out) and calculated how many properties they each have coming up at the tax foreclosure auction. Between 15 of them there are 3,450 of Detroit’s 20,032, or just over 17% of all auction properties in Detroit.
If you click the links you’ll see a boundary map with all the properties at auction:
• Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp = 294 tax foreclosures at auction
• Warren/Conner Development Coalition = 894 tax foreclosures at auction
• HELCO Block Club = 10 tax foreclosures at auction
• Barton MacFarlane = 376 tax foreclosures at auction
• WACO (Warren Ave Community Organization) = 290 tax foreclosures at auction
• University District Radio Patrol = 16 tax foreclosures at auction
• Focus: Hope = 901 tax foreclosures at auction
• Greater Woodward CDC = 214 tax foreclosures at auction
• CDAD = citywide
• Grandmont Community Association = accounted for Grandmont Rosedale Dev Corp
• Westtown Radio Patrol = unsure of boundaries
• Creekside CDC = 127 tax foreclosures at auction
• Yorkshire Woods Community Organization = 272 tax foreclosures at auction
• Greenacres Woodward = 10 tax foreclosures at auction
• North Rosedale Park Community Association = 45 tax foreclosures at auction
• Arden Park East Boston Association = 1 tax foreclosure at auction
• 200 Lakewood Block Club = unsure of boundaries
Total: 3,450 tax foreclosures at auction
Round 1 of the auction is where 20,032 Detroit properties will be auctioned for their back taxes is just a couple weeks away, running September 14th through September 20th. After that what doesn’t sell will be auctioned for an opening bid of $500 from October 19th - 25th. In previous years more than 50% of properties did not sell in either round, leaving a ton of vacant, uncared-for properties.
I’m asking Janai to share this information and area maps with the groups this week and hopefully get to hear back from each of them what would be most helpful to them in getting on top of the auction problem.
Some questions from the coalition:
I also asked there were any other particularly interesting questions or issues to think about beforehand and she responded:
• Increasing accountability for speculators who purchase properties at the Wayne County tax auction and subsequently neglect their properties
•Raising public awareness about tools available to access property ownership information; improving access to property ownership information
• Developing a relationship with Wayne County
Lots of thoughts here to be continued in a follow-up post. Anyone else?
First question for the coalition:
In a return question, one big thing on our minds over here that I’m hoping to hear something back from the group about is the No Property Left Behind idea I shared a little while ago, essentially crowdfunding the purchase of properties that no one else bids on and then trying to marry them to good purposes. We’ve been working more on how to execute that idea in a manageable way — targeting smaller areas with local partners rather than citywide — and one of the questions I have for each of the coalition groups is: Do you have interest in trying this approach and assuming ownership of foreclosure properties until you can find good private owners or other solutions?
In its simplest terms, the way the scenario could work is this: Let’s say Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation says they want in. There are 294 properties in their area at the foreclosure auction. 294 x $500 = $147,000 if all were to be purchased. We help them post a fundraiser where people can pledge money towards the purchase of as many of these properties as possible. If it raises $25,000, we would then buy up to 50 $500 properties, deed them directly to Grandmont Rosedale DC, and help advertise the inventory so people can apply to work on, use, or purchase them: mow vacant lots, clean up dumping, tear down dangerous buildings, make art, farm, take ownership or occupancy, etc.
From talking to some different groups it seems like there’s often fear of taking on properties, but you know what’s going to happen if the county keeps owning it: most likely nada except further decay, and you lose your only chance to get site control no questions asked.
Very curious to hear what the coalition groups think and if there are any volunteers to try it. If so we can work out the devils in the details together and modify things as needed.