Detroiters encouraged to apply for property tax assistance

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The Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program, or HPTAP, and Pay As You Stay, or PAYS, were created to help prevent foreclosure in Detroit. (Shutterstock)

Deadlines for housing assistance have been extended in Detroit for homeowners who are behind in paying property taxes.

The city’s Pay As You Stay, or PAYS Program, and the Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program, or HPTAP, were created to prevent the foreclosure process. The application deadline for the PAYS Program, which eliminates all interest fees and penalties to support homeowners with delinquent property taxes, has been extended to Sept. 14. The application deadline for HPTAP, which can reduce or eliminate homeowner’s property tax obligations for the year, has been extended to Dec. 14. 

Related:  ‘Black Homes Matter’: Detroit advocates speak out on foreclosures, assessments

Property tax foreclosure has been an ugly and ongoing issue in Detroit. The city has a history of overassessing properties that were subject to foreclosure while simultaneously attempting to reduce blight and the number of vacant homes. It wasn’t until the spread of the coronavirus that the Wayne County Treasurer placed a moratorium on foreclosures through the end of 2020.

Almost 43,000 occupied homes, 10,000 unoccupied homes, and nearly 5,000 properties with an unknown occupancy status were tax delinquent in 2019, according to a Quicken Loans Community Fund Neighbor to Neighbor report. Most homeowners were eligible for tax assistance but lacked the information to apply. Quicken Loans Community Fund and it’s partners sent 25,000 HPTAP application instructions this year to owner-occupied homes whose homeowners were enrolled in HPTAP within the last three years and or homes with delinquent property taxes. 

Mayor Mike Duggan boasted about the HPTAP program during a news conference in late July.

“We want to keep you in your house so we can put this issue of abandoned houses behind us once and for all,” he said.

Housing program applicants will be assessed on their income to receive 25%, 50%, or 100% tax exemption for the year.

The city is no longer requiring applicants to have a notarized signature and is also accepting unemployment paperwork, and 2018 and 2019 tax returns through 2020 for proof-of-income due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are 14 nonprofit and grassroots organizations that offer free application assistance to HPTAP applicants.

  •  Applications must be submitted by Dec. 14. Applications can be filled out online or in person at the Assessor’s Office at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 2 Woodward Ave.,Suite 804, Detroit. Applicants can also call 313-224-3011 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
  • If approved for HPTAP, participants are eligible for the city’s Pay As You Stay, or PAYS program. All HPTAP approved applicants are automatically considered for PAYS.
  • A single-person household whose income is less than $22,357 would qualify for a 25% exemption while a four-person household with an income of less than 29,355 qualifies for a 50% exemption. A full list of HPTAP exemptions is available on the city’s website
  • PAYS is a three-part payment plan for homeowners with unpaid delinquent taxes. The program reduces the burden of unpaid taxes requiring a homeowner to pay only up to 10% of the home’s taxable value.
  • The application deadline for the PAYS program has been extended to Sept. 15.  

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