Wayne County has canceled a controversial program that was supposed to generate better outcomes for tax-foreclosed properties often scooped up by speculators at an annual auction. The change comes following a Free Press investigation that found the program has instead contributed to blight and primarily enriched developers while providing unclear financial benefits to the county.
A Wayne County spokesman tells the Freeps' Allie Gross that the Action Before Auction program will be canceled for 2019, while officials evaluate the impact of the two-year-old pilot program and look "at ways to improve or change the auction." Gross' report also sparked a preliminary HUD inquiry.
Action Before Auction allows select developers to buy properties before they enter the tax-foreclosure auction in order to redevelop them. If the home is occupied, residents are supposed to be given the chance to buy it back. But the program has proven controversial it has contributed to vacancy and blight, as occupants are rarely able to purchase the homes. Developers were also initially selected without an RFP and several have ties to the county.
About 300 homes have been sold to developers through the program.