1. Helping a House Remain a Home

    January 13, 2017

    House key on wood floor

    This research is evaluating the effectiveness of a Poverty Tax Exemption for homeowners in poverty who own and occupy their property and study potential factors that may hinder or facilitate its access.

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    Each year, non-payment of property taxes causes thousands of Detroit residents to lose their homes to tax foreclosure. Detroit’s exceptionally high tax rate disproportionately burdens low-income residents, threatening their ability to maintain homeownership and attain long-term financial stability. Michigan law (MCL 211.7u) requires local governing bodies to make a Poverty Tax Exemption (PTE) available for homeowners in poverty who own and occupy their property. By reducing or eliminating property taxes for low-income homeowners, this policy works to alleviate poverty by decreasing household tax burden and preventing the devastating financial consequences of property tax foreclosure.

    While approximately 12,000 homeowners living in poverty qualify for the PTE, the policy remains underutilized by residents in need. In partnership with the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC), the Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP) and a researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, this project will evaluate the effectiveness of the policy and study potential factors that may hinder or facilitate its access. Findings will inform best practices across local governing bodies to strengthen this policy’s ability to alleviate poverty in Detroit and statewide.

    Roshanak Mehdipanah, U-M School of Public Health
    Alexa Eisenberg, U-M School of Public Health
    Ted Phillips, United Community Housing Coalition
    Michele Oberholtzer, United Community Housing Coalition