PROJECTS

TAX FORECLOSURE

CRISIS OF 2015

In 2015 Wayne County set a record for the number of homes at risk of tax foreclosure with 75,000 at risk. In January 2016 62,082 Detroit homes entered the formal tax foreclosure process with the Wayne County Treasurer’s office; that is 1/6 of all homes in the city or 100,000 people. Experts feared that estimates were conservative and the reality of the crisis was much bigger- we heard it referred to as a “hurricane without water.”

INTRO

Storytelling 

Experience Design

Advocacy

ROLE

becauseomeliveshere.com was a digital feed of first-person narratives from Detroiters sharing stories and reflections on the state of their city. During the Show Cause Hearing, we wanted to give residents an opportunity to be heard. We invited Detroiters to share their stories with the world through a website and facebook page

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STORYTELLING

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THE COMFORT CREW

The Comfort Crew was a small group of volunteers that made residents feel welcome during their time at the Show Cause Hearings. This crew worked in cyclical rounds. First residents were guided by other volunteers to their seat, received the necessary forms to be filled out, and had their tax status looked up. Then the comfort crew would arrive and offer a glass or water one a tray. About thirty minutes late, the comfort crew would appear again offering a mint and a puzzle - something that would help the time pass.

And so the cycle continue, with granola bars, fruit, coffee and playing cards being offered to residents as they waited for ours to talk to a representative from the Wayne County Treasurer’s office. An overwhelming number of residents expressed gratitude at being treated like humans during such a stressful situation. 

 

In fact, we had some same of the very same residents that attended the first couple of events ask to join our comfort crew in the following days so they could give their neighbors the same experience they had received.

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“THIS YEAR WAS MORE LIKE A SPA"

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ADVOCACY

During the month of March, UWSEM mailed a postcard to each of these homes. Residents were encouraged to call 2-1-1, an around the clock help center so they could be directed to the nearest foreclosure event. In addition, 2-1-1 placed a robot call to each of the 15,000 homes to ensure that residents would know about the resources that were still available