City announces record number of property tax exemptions, helping more families stay in their homes
- Officials have approved more than 10,500 so far; previous high was just over 9,000 in 2019
- City received more than 11,500 applications following increased outreach effort aimed at reaching every eligible homeowner
- Exemptions approved under Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP) have increased 148% since 2014
Today, The City’s Assessors’ Office reports that with hundreds of applications still being reviewed, the city already has issued a record number of property tax exemptions to income-eligible homeowners under the City’s Homeowner Property Tax Assistance Program (HPTAP). As the City’s Assessors’ Office continue to process its largest number of applications, so far the City has approved more than 10,500 (and counting) Detroit homeowners a property tax exemption, a 15% increase over the 9,089 approved last year.
“This program has one purpose and that is to help keep Detroit families struggling to pay their property taxes in their homes and to take away the fear of foreclosure,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “I’m proud of the work our Assessor’s Office and other have done and grateful to our partners who have helped us to increase awareness and participation in the program.”
The City has worked diligently over the last six years to reach every eligible Detroit homeowner in need of assistance. The number of applications continues to increase steadily year after year, and the City’s approved exemptions have increased by nearly 150%, helping more than 10,000 Detroiters avoid foreclosure:
Approved Applications since 2014:
- 2014: 3,800 approved applications
- 2015: 4,533 approved applications
- 2016: 5,274 approved applications
- 2017: 5,836 approved applications
- 2018: 7,880 approved applications
- 2019: 9,089 approved applications
- 2020: 10,513 (plus) approved applications
The City’s goal of 0% occupied foreclosures continues to be one of the Mayor’s top priority and programs such as the HPTAP, is one of the city’s leading effort to help Detroiters keep their home. HPTAP provides an opportunity for homeowners to be exempt from their current year property taxes based on household income or circumstances to help them avoid the possibility of foreclosure.
Last year the City expanded the HPTAP program to offer 25% exemptions in addition to the 50% and 100% property tax exemptions already offered to applicants. The newly added exemption option increased the number of Detroiters eligible for financial support who otherwise would not qualify for assistance.
For example, a family of two earning $22,754 or less for example, is eligible for a 50% exemption, while a family of two earning $20,246 or less is eligible for a 100% tax exemption, meaning they pay no property taxes each year they are eligible. Earlier this year, The City launched a new exemption level of 25% to reach even more eligible residents seeking assistance to avoid foreclosure. Under this expanded program a family of two earning $25,703 or a family of four earning $31,930 would be eligible for a 25% reduction in their property taxes. Due to changes at the state level regarding the HPTAP, the City is awaiting the release of the 2021 HPTAP application by the State Tax Commission.
City’s Property Tax Assistance Programs Outreach during COVID-19
For the past five years, the City’s Board of Review and Office of the Assessor developed an intensive outreach and hands-on marketing plan to reach Detroiters in need of property tax assistance. Due to Covid-19, a lot of those efforts were restructured. Despite the difficulties, the City spent countless hours to develop outreach programming to still reach eligible Detroit homeowners. This outreach included:
- Creating an online HPTAP application process in which more than 1,700 applicants took advantage of during the pandemic
- Staff from the Office of the Assessor made field visits to applicants’ home to pick up the application when necessary or to drop one off an application when requested
- Staff from the Office of the Assessor made more than 2,000 phones call to prior applicants during the months of November and December to remind them of the 2020 deadline to return the applications
- From December 7 through December 15 staff from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), Office of the Assessor, and our community partners assisted more than 1,200 Detroiters with the HPTAP application at TCF Arena
Additionally, The City partnered with The Rocket Community Fund, in which 15 non-profits hosted Neighbor to Neighbor virtual workshops to help Detroiters apply for Property Tax Exemptions:
- Bridging Communities
- Central Detroit Christian
- Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance
- Detroit Association of Black Organizations
- Eastside Community Network
- Focus Hope
- Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation
- Hickory On The Move
- Jefferson East, INC.
- MACC Development
- Midwest Civic Council of Block Clubs
- Osborn Neighborhood Alliance
- Southwest Economic Solutions
- United Community Housing Coalition
The City also partnered with Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and Account Aid Society to provide assistance for applicants.
In 2020, Mayor Duggan advocated for enactment of Senate Bill 1234, which allows the Board of Review to provide for an automatic renewal of the HPTAP, through calendar year 2021, for households that received the exemption in 2019 or 2020. The legislation will also provide a longer exemption period for seniors and disabled individuals whose income is limited to a fixed-income program (i.e., social security), allowing for a 3-year exemption period without annual reapplication.
Must have exemption to qualify for Pay as You Stay
In addition to helping Detroiters in need of assistance with their current property taxes, The City partnered with Wayne County to assist Detroiters with their delinquent property taxes through the newly launched Pay as You Stay (PAYS) program. Detroit homeowners enrolled in the HPTAP program with delinquent property taxes was also enrolled into the PAYS program, which helped eliminate interest, penalties and fees associated with delinquent taxes, and enrolled them into an affordable payment plan to keep their home.
The PAYS program through December 20, 2020 had accepted 5,022 Detroiters and assisted them with substantially lower their delinquent property taxes.