LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Whitmer signed a bill granting property tax relief to some Detroit residents on Monday.
The Pay as you Stay legislation eliminates fees, penalties, and interest on back taxes to the tens of thousands of eligible people who live in Wayne County, as well as anyone else eligible in Michigan struggling with their housing payments. The only balance left over for residents to pay would either be the back taxes only or 10 percent of the home's taxable value, whichever is less.
Resident Shanita Jones embodies exactly who this relief is targeted at.
"I see people like me everyday struggling, trying to figure out how to make ends meet," she said. "I simply said 'if you guys could just help me with some assistance with my property taxes so I can keep my babies, I can handle everything else."
Under the new law, Jones will be paying less than $50 a month. Her original property tax almost crested $400.
"This is about home, this isn't about the technical things, this isn't about the machinations of the system, this is about people being able to have and experience a home," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest.
The city estimates around 31,000 Wayne County residents could be eligible. Individuals making roughly $20,000 a year, or a family of four making around $30,000 would meet the requirement.
However, residents must first fill out a poverty exemption form in order to be approved.
"If you get it in and it gets approved by the city by March 28, Treasurer Eric Sabree will stop any foreclosure processes right now," said Mayor Mike Duggan.
"To me, a home is the most basic thing an individual can hope to achieve in life and the second thing that ran through my mind is that it would also stabilize the neighborhoods," said Sabree.
While the legislation was strongly lobbied for by top governmental brass in Detroit and Wayne County, the property tax relief is available for eligible residents anywhere in Michigan.
Michigan's newest law is the latest step in a property tax story that continues to widen across Detroit. For residents who have been overassessed and overtaxed by hundreds of millions of dollars, the Pay as you Stay legislation is a game-changer, especially for those struggling to make ends meet in an increasingly expensive economy.
"I honestly did not think that I would qualify for any assistance," Jones said. "It is okay. It is okay because, at some point in time, we all need just a little bit of help."
"Just a little bit," she added.