Property tax foreclosure has been the biggest contributor to housing instability in the city of Detroit over the last 15 years. It erodes homeownership, accelerates blight, and significantly reduces equity and wealth for residents by diminishing property values. Dan Gilbert has been personally involved in efforts to address this issue since 2013, when he co-led the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force. In the years since, the Rock Family of Companies has supported and led numerous public-private partnerships to drive systemic change in this space.
While there are programs to help homeowners at risk of tax foreclosure, they are underutilized. In fact, the Rocket Community Fund’s Neighbor to Neighbor program found that 90% of tax delinquent Detroit homeowners would have qualified for full tax exemptions if they had applied for the program. As a result, far too many Detroit homeowners are struggling with back tax debt and the persistent risk of foreclosure.
The Gilbert Family Foundation believes that no one should be foreclosed on for taxes that should not have been assessed in the first place. Today, given the systemic change that has been supported by the Rocket Community Fund, non-profit partners, the City, County, and State, there is an unprecedented opportunity to completely eliminate the debt that has oppressed low-income homeowners for far too long.
As part of its joint $500M commitment to building economic opportunity in Detroit alongside the Rocket Community Fund, the Gilbert Family Foundation has committed to making a $15M philanthropic investment to eliminate the property tax debt owed by an estimated 20,000 low-income, Detroit homeowners. Not only will this investment drive housing stability across the city, but also it will preserve over $400M in Detroit wealth.
On top of that, we are committed to working with partners to invest in future tax foreclosure prevention. In fact, in conjunction with this program, Wayne County also pledged $5M to joint investments that will ensure that we not only break the cycle of tax debt, but also never allow this systemic inequity to exist again.
The Gilbert Family Foundation is proud to make this initial investment, and we look forward to supporting more community-informed resources that will build access to opportunity and equity alongside these families.
If you are interested in accessing property tax relief through the Detroit Tax Relief Fund, please call 313-244-0274 or visit www.waynemetro.org/propertytax.