U-M study prompts city to review link between tax auction and housing instability

Source: Poverty Solutions

The mortgage and tax foreclosure crisis of the past decade has reshaped Detroit’s low-income housing markets. The majority of Detroit households are renters now, and they’re becoming increasingly reliant on corporate landlords.

A working paper by University of Michigan-Dearborn Assistant Professor Joshua Akers and Rutgers University Assistant Professor Eric Seymour outlines the housing policies and other factors that have allowed speculative buyers to contribute to neighborhood instability and blight in Detroit.

The study — which analyzed property records from 2005 to 2015 — found corporate landlords buying in bulk are more likely than “mom and pop” landlords to weaken already-weak housing markets by allowing houses to fall into disrepair and eventually be demolished, at the public’s expense. 

Large speculative landlords, who own 10 or more single-family homes purchased out of foreclosure, also increase housing instability for low- to moderate-income households through inflated rent prices and higher eviction rates, according to the study.

“This is really important research that details how property speculation through the tax foreclosure auction contributes to housing instability,” said Arthur Jemison, group executive for Housing, Planning and Development with the city of Detroit. 

Read more about the study.

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