Gov. signs legislation for struggling homeowners

    Detroit neighborhood | Susan J. Demas

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed House Bill 5124, aimed at helping Michigan homeowners struggling to pay property taxes stay in their homes.

    The legislation known as Pay As You Stay (PAYS), which is sponsored by state Rep. Wendell Byrd (D-Detroit) provides affordable payment plans and eliminating penalties, interest and fees so homeowners can manage their property taxes.

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Casey Hull

    On Monday, Whitmer signed the bill at the Wayne Metro Community Action Agency in Detroit. She was joined by Byrd, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree.

    “Pay As You Stay will help homeowners across the state struggling with delinquent taxes stay in their homes,” said Whitmer. “Everyone deserves a path to own a home, and this program will help tens of thousands of Detroiters and Wayne County residents avoid foreclosure. I applaud Representative Byrd, County Executive Warren Evans, Mayor Duggan and all of our partners for their leadership in getting this done for all Michiganders.”

    HB 5124 implements the PAYS program to allow foreclosing governmental units to significantly reduce delinquent property taxes owed by homeowners who qualify for poverty exemptions.

    The program is a three-part plan, according to the governor’s office. Once enrolled, all interest, penalties and fees would be eliminated.  To reduce an undue burden on homeowners, the balance due would be limited to back taxes only or 10% of a home’s taxable value, whichever is less. The remaining balance would be paid back over three years at 0% interest.

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    Homeowners who qualify for a full or partial Property Tax Exemption (PTE) and enroll in future years would be eligible for the program. To be PTE-eligible, a household with 1 person could not make more than $19,303 per year; a household with 4 people could not make more than $28,671.

    Detroit residents can get more information here.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.