Angry residents unknowingly lose homes to city

- Some angry Dearborn residents say their homes were bought right out from under them.

They admit falling behind on taxes but when they tried to pay, they found out the city had bought their homes and they are now being evicted.

Residents say they are trying to pay to get their homes back, but the city of Dearborn refuses to work with them. If something doesn't change soon, several families will be homeless.

Zaid Al-Hilali is worried he may lose his house on Yinger Street for good. The mortgage is paid off, but he admits while supporting a family of seven, he fell behind on property taxes.

He was finally able to pay nearly $800 of what he owed in September, but the city never told him it was too late. The city of Dearborn had already bought the house at the Wayne County auction.

"I didn't know the city took over the house," he said. "No one told us from the city and they took the payment."

The Al-Hilali family is just one of dozens of Dearborn residents fighting eviction. Some say they never even knew they were behind on their taxes.

The now former homeowners attended a Dearborn special meeting Monday night to try and convince council members to let them buy their properties back.

Attorney Tarek Beydoun represents five of the families.

"All of them have either  fallen on hard times or fallen through bureaucratic red tape," he said. "They are not making any excuses. They all have a check in their hand and are ready to pay what they owe, plus interest."

Ironically it was Councilman Robert Abraham asking the toughest questions - although back in 2007 he owed more than $80,000 in back taxes on some properties he owned on Garrison Street.

"Two families were living in the same house, no mortgage, both working," he said. "I'm just trying to understand why the current taxes were not paid."

The council felt the homeowners should have known their property taxes weren't paid up and tried to work something out with Wayne County ahead of time.

Although it has never been done, the council went through each case determining whether the homeowner should be allowed to buy back their homes.

If not, Beydoun says multiple families will homeless.

"The city has the opportunity to keep homeowners in their home," he said. "It's a no brainer. They shouldn't have to go through all of this humiliation."

"I just hope we can get our house back so my mom and dad can stay with me," said  Al-Hilali.

UPDATE: Dearborn City Council was able to reach a decision to allow about half the families including Al-Hilali to buy back their homes. There were conditions to meet including making the residences single-family and the total back taxes had to be paid within 10 days.

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