Homeowners blast Southfield over foreclosures, city says they didn't pay taxes

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) - A group of Southfield homeowners are about to lose their homes and they believe they’re being targeted by the city’s greed.  

The mayor of Southfield told 7 Action News it all comes down to paying taxes. Oakland County can foreclose on a home if residents don’t pay property taxes for three years in a row. 

One of the Southfield homeowners, Louis Jackson, said he fell on hard times and tried to stay on track.

"I went through not only a bankruptcy but a loss of a job and was working with an organization called step forward because I had gotten behind on my taxes and was in a payment plan,” said Jackson.

He said he made a big payment in March and he’s kept up with his monthly payments. He thought he was on track, but he got a notice his house had been sold. 

"First I thought this must be a mistake I know I'm under a payment plan, my house is safe for at least another year,” said Jackson.

He found out the City of Southfield purchased his home and then a non-profit took over the title.  He said about 100 other homes in Southfield had the same thing happen.

"I feel it's racially motivated by profit and greed,” said Jackson.

The City of Southfiled said it all comes down to property taxes.

"Nobody wants to see anybody put out of their home but at some point the county treasurer makes a determination you're not keeping up with your payment, you're not paying your taxes three years gone by,” said Mayor Kenson Siver of Southfield. 

He said every city in the county gets first right of refusal after a home is foreclosed on.  Silver said Southfield bought all of the foreclosed homes in city between 2015 and 2016.

"The reason we take them, they would have gone to that auction in August, then we would have had more rental homes and speculators,” said Siver.

Siver said the city then sold the homes to a non-profit, in charge of remodeling or demolishing, then re-selling the homes to qualified homebuyers.  Silver said he wants to avoid rental homes and group homes in Southfield. 

"You need to pay your taxes, nobody gets to live for free you need to pay your taxes, it really does come down to that,” said Siver.

Siver said there’s no going back on the foreclosure process.  Concerned residents still plan to go to the city council meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, asking for help and answers.

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