October 31, 2015

What We Did

Let’s take a minute to break down what happened in this year’s Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction.

The Tricycle collective visited over 400 occupied homes before the auction started. Our goal was to inform residents that their homes were in foreclosure, that someone might buy it in auction and that, just maybe, that person could be them.

Of all the homes we visited, we had conversations and interactions with about 100 residents. Of those, no more than 4 knew the pertinent details of the auction and how to participate.

31 families ended up working with us directly: 20 with the United Community Housing Coalition and 11 with a partner who did what no one else would do: offered to front money to buy homes in auction and sell them back at cost. This served invaluable for people who weren’t able to sign up with UCHC or whose houses sold for more than UCHC was willing to spend.

Throughout September, we raised $22,689 as part of our “20-20 Campaign.” We also held several events to spread awareness about the issue of tax foreclosure in the city of Detroit.

The auction was extremely difficult. While 18 of the families were able to buy their houses in auction, 13 were outbid (whereas last year we got 9 out of 11). Among the winning bids, 9 families actually won their homes for $500 (not counting summer taxes). The highest bid on a winning house was $6,100. Among the losing bids, 6 homes sold for over $5,000 and 2 houses sold for over $10,000. The actual amount hardly matters, it was higher than the families could compete with.

Financially, we will be donating $22,500 before the end of the year if all goes to plan. $17,500 went directly to UCHC and was distributed among both the winning and losing families who worked with UCHC though The Tricycle Collective. Remaining funds are also being donated to clients of UCHC who need assistance paying off the home purchase. Another $2,500 will go to help families establishing land contracts with our other partner. An additional $2,500 will go to 4 families whose houses were outbid. Our goal is to use the funds raised to make that crucial difference in being able to help a family OWN their home, but people who are outbid often need the money more that those who win, because of the cost of renting and relocating. For that reason, we are giving $500 to all families who were outbid in the auction.

This doesn’t leave a whole lot of money left for operational costs. We are a volunteer run organization and that allows this incredibly high donation expenditure rate. Any time it makes the difference in helping a family save their home, it all becomes worth it.

Without the looming specter of the auction, the future is less clear. We want to emphasize cooperation with existing organizations and “stick to the script” of helping the families we have already helped to successfully stay in their homes in a safe, affordable and sustainable way. Learning as we go, but happy for all we have accomplished.


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