Advocates say overtaxing by Detroit is causing foreclosures, city disagrees

A group of advocates is asking the city to investigate the assessment of homes in the city of Detroit, saying that they are overtaxed in excess.

The advocates are calling on Mayor Mike Duggan, the city tax assessor, and the Michigan state tax commission - but the city says the claims are not true.

"I am coming from the personal aspect of a single mom, we were just homeless before I acquired that home on the eastside," said Laverne. 

The single mother of nine children lost her Detroit home saying she couldn't keep up with the taxes and felt the assessment was way too high.  

"It was horrible and I'm emotionally mentally messed up right now," she said.

The Coalition for Property Tax Justice says over-assessment in the city of Detroit is systemic and alleges between 2009 and 2015, about  55 to 85 percent of properties were being assessed in violation of the Michigan State Constitution.

A 2020 study done at the University of Chicago evaluated between 2016 and 2018, finding there's still a problem with the lowest valued homes in Detroit being over-assessed at higher rates.

"Both before and after the city-wide assessment, those conclusions are well-supported by the data,"  said Dr. Andrew Hayashi.

Hayashi, from the University of Virginia and others, did their own analysis of the data used in the aforementioned University of Chicago study and came to the same conclusion - that, yes, there's a problem. 
"It's my hope that policy-makers in Detroit and elsewhere will really try and figure out what is driving the over-assessment of these low-value properties," he said. "The fact these over-assessments are happening is, I think, very clear."

"That's nothing new, everybody knows there were problems in 2009,12,11,13. Tell us how we're doing now," said Alvin Horhn.
Horhn, Detroit's Tax assessor, claims the situation has greatly improved and the analysis in the University of Chicago study is no good, the study said.
FOX 2: "There is still a significant percentage of people and properties that are being overtaxed. Do you say that's true or flatly false also?"

"That's flatly false, that is not true," Horhn said. "That's why the city has the most robust appeals process in the state so when we get it wrong we fix it." 

The city administration and advocates *still* can't get on the same page about whether homes are being properly assessed, as real people deal with the real ramifications, City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield shared her perspective.

"Historically depriving African-Americans access to property and housing has been one of the main tools to isolate our people in America," Sheffield said.