Detroit tax foreclosures plummet over two years

Sept 19 (Reuters) - The number of property foreclosures in Detroit due to nonpayment of taxes dropped in 2017 to the lowest level since the 2008 housing market collapse, local officials announced on Tuesday.

Foreclosures of occupied and vacant properties totaled 6,315 this year, down more than 70 percent from 24,793 two years ago. The drop was even more dramatic at 88 percent for owner-occupied homes, which had 786 foreclosures compared with 6,408 in 2015, according to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Wayne County officials.

Duggan attributed the reduction to door-to-door efforts by community volunteers who advised at-risk homeowners about assistance programs.

“It was this outreach that led to the 88 percent drop,” the mayor said at a press conference.

A program that began under Michigan law in 2015 allowed homeowners in Wayne County with delinquent property taxes to enter into monthly payment plans at a reduced interest rate.

Duggan said the steep decline in foreclosures is another indicator of Detroit’s progress. Michigan’s biggest city exited what was then the biggest-ever U.S. municipal bankruptcy in December 2014 after shedding about $7 billion of its $18 billion of debt and obligations.

Detroit ended its last two fiscal year with balanced budgets, putting the city on the path to terminating post-bankruptcy state oversight next year. (Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)