Tax foreclosures down 88 percent in Detroit

After thousands of Detroit families lost their homes to tax foreclosure in the past few years, officials announced Tuesday those foreclosures are down nearly 99 percent.

Just five months ago, lifetime Detroiter Denise Tanks was threatened with eviction. But now with the help up community volunteers working with the city, she's about to become a homeowner.

"There's so many people and so many families going through the same thing and I kind of feel like it's a rip off," she said.

Tanks says she moved into a home on Euclid near Grand River on the city's west side with her kids in January.

"The landlord, in the beginning, was very positive. She was uplifting even, at times," she said.

But Tanks says that in April, she received a letter saying the home she was paying to live in was going into foreclosure. Confused, Tanks says she confronted her landlord.

"Even thought I was paying rent on time, she still took me to court to try to put me out but the judge, of course, said you don't own the home anymore, so you can't put her," she said.

That's when Tanks says the Housing Commission, a non-profit that works with the city, knocked on her door, asking if she'd like to become the home's new owner.

"I signed over and let them know that I would definitely be interested in being a homeowner," she said.

Tanks says within the next month or two, she will be the official owner of her home and she also plans to sue the former owner for that rent money.

She shared her success story Tuesday as the city thanked those volunteers who have gone door-to-door to help people like her.

"This is a great case where the city, the county. the community groups all came together and are keeping people in their home," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said.

Duggan says that in the last two years, tax foreclosures in the city have gone down 88 percent - the lowest since 2008.

"We can't stabilize neighborhoods if we keep moving people out. Two years ago when you had 6,000 homeowners leave their houses - that's really tough," he said.

A big help is the interest reduction program, which allows homeowners to pay off delinquent taxes with an interest rate of 6 percent, instead of 18 percent.

"We've got an advantage of a housing market that's relatively cheap compared to the rest of the country, but we want people to be able to pay for those houses," said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

Now as Tanks tries to spread the word that there is help out there, she says that simple knock on her door changed her life.

"The work that they're doing is a blessing," she said.