Black residents feel Hamtramck's tax hikes are pushing them out

- The city of Hamtramck forced black residents out of their neighborhood once back in 1969 which led to a landmark legal battle.

Now people say it's happening all over again as the city raises taxes and pricing families out of homes that are supposed to be protected.

Racial discrimination forced them from their homes in the 1960s. Only recently there has been relief that the lawsuit was finally settled. But now they say there is a new effort to push them out.

"One day my mom and dad told us that we had to move," said Deborah Richard.

It was 1963, Richard and her family were forced to leave their home, relocated to the Hamtramck housing projects in the name of urban renewal. It was later ruled a case of discrimination against black families that took more than 40 years to resolve.

Judge Damon Keith presided over the lawsuit that would finally, just a few years ago, build 200 homes for those displaced. In an agreement with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to provide the housing - with the homeowners putting money into escrow for water, taxes and insurance.

"Everything has been fine until March 18th," Richard said.

That's when she found out her home had been reassessed from $27,500 to $32,800. She went to Hamtramck's new assessor to find out what was going on.

"I told him,  if you're raising this up I'm on Social Security and according to MSHDA, 30 percent is for the home insurance, the taxes and the water bills," Richard said. "And this is going to put me over."

Then she received yet another assessment, this time for nearly $60,000.

"I'm like wow - how can  you assess me twice in one year," she said. "Three months later he tells me your summer taxes will be $2,658."

FOX 2: "What was your reaction to that?"

"I was like, they're going to make me lose my home," Richard said. "Where am I going get that kind of money?"

And as if that's not bad enough - on Friday she received a bill from Wayne County for 2015 taxes that she already paid. Because of the new assessment they want more money.

"They're saying that they want me to pay $1,400 in 30 days or I'll be penalized and that price will go up," Richard said.

She's not the only one facing this problem, many are now protesting and speaking out at city hall.  That's where FOX 2 went to find Assessor Jay Singh - who says the new construction was not properly assessed when it was built.

"Lawsuit or no lawsuit, (in) my mind - I'm not required to assess properties differently," he said.

Which could mean yet another lawsuit - for these people who grew up engulfed in one.

"It's like they're trying to do the same thing all over again, displace us," Richard said.

"We're feeling like we're being displaced again, trying to be displaced again," said Veronica Smith. "It's unfair - you know we understand that we have to pay taxes where we live - we have to do that."

"I feel like I’m being forced out," said Jerri Raab. "And I don't want to be forced out of my home - again."

They'll be protesting again at the city council meeting Tuesday night.

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