The Christian Science Monitor

Detroit battles tax penalties that create city of renters

Corey Nantambu, a Detroit native, works at the Detroit Medical Center. After her landlord lost the home she rents to foreclosure, she's hoping to buy the home herself with help from the United Community Housing Coalition. Source: Alex Kellogg

Pearlie Mack was a homeowner for years, until a series of difficult-to-prevent disasters.

First, an electrical fire left her West Side Detroit home in ashes in 1998. So Ms. Mack, who serves meals for a living at a Detroit public school in her neighborhood, took the insurance money and purchased a new two-family flat. When a tree branch fell and knocked a hole bigger than a sofa in her roof, she didn’t have the insurance to cover that. No longer able to own a home, she was forced to rent.

Last summer, a bright orange foreclosure notice was tacked on the front door of the house she rented. Her landlord had lost the home, but had continued to charge her $500 a month in rent.

To say stories like Mack’s are commonplace in Detroit is an understatement. But what makes her tale unusual is that it comes with a happy ending: Thanks to a program now wrapping up its second year, Mack was able buy the home she rented from the county.

“It feels good, it feels real good” she said with a laugh earlier this month. “If I had to move, it would have been a

Nudge from a lawsuitCatch-22 in county budget?Progress, but still a tide of foreclosure noticesAssistance, one door-knock at a timeTianna Hodge’s predicament

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