The taxing problem of foreclosures

By Charles Sercombe

Hamtramck’s home foreclosure rate is bad, but it’s not the worst in Wayne County.

According to recent SEMCOG statistics, which were recently published in the Detroit News, one out of every 40 homes in Hamtramck is in foreclosure. Hamtramck has an estimated housing stock of about 5,000. That comes down to about 400 foreclosed homes in the city.

While foreclosures are devastating to homeowners, the problem doesn’t stop at their door. When a house goes into foreclosure, it usually remains vacant.

A vacant house presents a host of problems for the city. The house itself will start to deteriorate after one season, mostly from moisture getting in and causing mold to grow.

If a house remains vacant for a few years, it becomes a major fix-up for any would-be buyer.

From the perspective of the city government, a foreclosed house usually means a loss of tax payments or at the very least wrangling with the bank that owns it.

According to the city’s Finance Director, Nevrus Nazarko, the city has lost about $200,000 a year in property taxes.

Vacant houses are also open targets for vandals and arson. Fortunately for the city, there is a blight grant that can be tapped into to demolish the worst of the worst.

Department of Public Works Director Martin Ladd said he’s been working with the banks to make sure houses are maintained. He said the city has demolished about 40 houses so far.

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