Researching Foreclosures in Detroit
Reparations is personal. And so is its coverup and obstruction.
I am one of the black Detroiters whose generational wealth was stolen when my mother's house, in Detroit City Council District 1, was forfeited due to over-taxation in 2015. That house is now worth $95,000. I am one in 140,000 Detroit owes reparations but who are the others?
I proposed that the Detroit Reparations Task Force investigate evictions, foreclosures, and forfeitures from 2005-2017. The proposal follows below.
The proposal calls for researching available records that are 6-18 years old. Many agencies destroy records after 7 years, but one place that most likely still houses the evidence of discrimination against black Detroiters is the Wayne County Clerk's office. Will the Detroit Reparations Task Force issue a FOIA Request for those records or do everything else but look there? In other words, is the Task Force part of a cover up?
Tune in Friday, April 28th at 4 pm for another episode of the Keith Williams Show starring the Michigan Democratic Party. Otherwise, known as the Detroit Reparations Task Force. Location TBA.
Comprehensive Housing Research Proposal for
Detroit’s Reparations Task Force
Anita Belle, J.D.
April 18, 2023
America entered into a mortgage foreclosure crisis and a Great Recession in approximately 2005. If the statistics brought to the Detroit Reparations Task Force from Attorney Jerry Goldberg are accurate, then nearly 140,000 Detroiters lost property since 2005. Between 2005 and 2015, Detroit lost 1/3 of its population and 1/3 of its residential housing, resulting in an unconstitutional seizure of property, loss of tax base, political representation, increased blight, increased crime, decreased quality of education, food deserts, unemployment, water shutoffs, emergency management, bankruptcy, regentrification, loss of pensions, and loss of life during the pandemic.
The housing foreclosure crisis led to emergency management of both cities and schools because both are funded by property taxes. While banks and other forces pushed the municipality into bankruptcy, the city got itself out of emergency management and bankruptcy through overtaxation. Detroit was kicked while we were down. GM, Chrysler, and the banks were too big to fail, so they got a bailout. Detroit didn’t. Then, after predatory lending, overtaxation, and a pension/union-busting bankruptcy caused blacks to lose their properties and schools, in 2017, Detroit added insult to injury by granting a $400 million, including from Detroit’s struggling public schools, to build a stadium for a billionaire. In 2023, the City gave the same billionaire another $600 million to develop around his stadium.
A reporter asked me if Detroit is still approximately 80% black, then wouldn’t paying reparations mean that we’re simply paying ourselves. I responded, “Exactly. We might as well pay ourselves. We’ve paid everyone else.”
It’s time for black Detroiters to undo the harm repeatedly done to us. Our mission is to make a report 18 months from our start date of April 13, 2003. This means our report is due on Sunday, October 13, 2024.
- Need the names and addresses of property owners who lost property between 2005 to 2017. Many of these documents may be in the custody of the Wayne County Clerk (for records from 36th District, Third Circuit, and Probate Courts), the Wayne County Sheriff for sheriff deeds, the Wayne County Treasurer for tax assessments, and the Wayne County Register of Deeds. These records should be formally gathered by a Freedom of Information Act request. The FOIA request should be made as soon as possible in order to receive and analyze the records in order to timely include these comprehensive findings in our task force report. If the applicable county officers have the capability to summarize the documents in comma separated Excel format for analysis by the Tableau Program.
- The Tableau Program costs $70 per month. For 17 months, the total cost would be $1,190.00.
- The Microsoft Office Suite, which contains the Excel software, costs at least $10 per month or $170 for 17 months.
- Analyzing approximately 140,000 foreclosures and other systemic means of removing black Detroiters over the course of a dozen years will require, at a minimum, examining at least 2,334 foreclosures per week for 60 weeks (estimating FOIA compliance by June 5, 2023, then calculating to July 29, 2024). This is a specialized full-time job for at least three people and a supervisor. I conservatively estimate that labor costs are as follows:
- Comprehensive Research staff at $25 per hour plus benefits for 40 hours per week for 4 staff members for 60 weeks = $240,000 plus benefits
- Comprehensive Research supervisor at $50 per hour base salary plus benefits for 40 hours per week for 75 weeks (allowing time to analyze the data and write the report) = $150,000 plus benefits. I nominate myself to supervise this project because I have a certificate in Data Visualization with Tableau.
- Subtotal of Comprehensive Housing Research is $391,360.00 before employee benefits and FOIA costs or approximately $2.80 per foreclosure for 140,000 foreclosures. Considering that the City of Detroit overtaxed these residents by $600 million, spending less than $3 per person to research who specifically was harmed is the least this Task Force can do. This subtotal does not include evictions and forfeitures, which will also be researched. This subtotal also does not include costs for computer hardware. It is estimated that five people working 8 hours per day will research 2,333 foreclosures per week for 60 weeks.
- The research can begin by having the attached survey completed by Detroit residents (and former residents gentrified out of the City or heirs of Detroit residents who lost property) facing Eviction, Foreclosure, Forfeiture, and other housing insecurity. A revised version of the form can be found at https://forms.gle/pMKEYYS5uWtpiB2s5. This form can be incorporated into the Excel and Tableau software used to analyze the data gathered from the foreclosure research.
- Biweekly Friday Meeting Calendar for Our 18-Month Mission:
- April 13, 2023
- April 28, 2023
- May 12, 2023 (Mother’s Day Weekend)
- May 26, 2023 (Memorial Day Weekend)
- June 9, 2023
- June 23, 2023
- July 7, 2023
- July 21, 2023
- August 4, 2023
- August 18, 2023
- September 1, 2023
- September 15, 2023
- September 29, 2023
- October 13, 2023 (Friday the 13th)
- October 27, 2023
- November 10, 2023
- November 24, 2023 (Black Friday after Thanksgiving)
- December 8, 2023
- December 22, 2023 (Christmas Weekend)
- January 5, 2024
- January 19, 2024
- February 2, 2024
- February 16, 2024
- March 1, 2024
- March 15, 2024
- March 29, 2024 (Good Friday)
- April 12, 2024
- April 26, 2024
- May 10, 2024
- May 24, 2024 (Memorial Day Weekend)
- June 7, 2024
- June 21, 2024
- July 5, 2024 (4th of July Weekend)
- July 19, 2024
- August 2, 2024 (1st meeting after Housing Data Collection estimated completion date)
- August 16, 2024
- August 30, 2024
- September 13, 2024
- September 27, 2024
- October 11, 2024 (last meeting)
- October 13, 2024 (Report is due or turned in on Monday, October 14, 2024)