Grant will help Kzoo residents pay property taxes

downtown Kalamazoo
Downtown Kalamazoo. (File)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Losing a home to foreclosure can be a gut-wrenching process. That’s especially true if it’s because you failed to pay your property taxes.

The city of Kalamazoo received a grant last week that will help some people stay in their homes.

More than 700 homeowners in Kalamazoo County are currently subject to foreclosure because they’re delinquent in paying their taxes, totaling more than $3 million in back taxes, Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema said.

Now, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation is stepping in, providing a $40,000 grant to help homeowners pay those taxes. Balkema says it’s enough money to help about 10 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

“My comment, while I’m very supportive of that, is we need to look in the county, other areas, like the area I represent, and also even Portage, to see what we can do for residents because foreclosure knows no boundaries,” Kalamazoo County Commissioner Julie Rogers said.

Rogers represents Oshtemo, Kalamazoo and Alamo townships, which aren’t eligible for the LISC grant.

Rogers said she would like to see the county allocate money from its delinquent tax revolving fund to help those who are having a hard time paying their property taxes.

“What I’d like to see is some education, so we find that financial literacy is also low and so maybe we could have some classes on future foreclosure prevention,” she said.

The tax foreclosure deadline is in April. Rogers says now is the time to contact the county treasurer if you’re behind in your property taxes.

“One of the worst atrocities is when someone owns their home and loses it because of tax foreclosure,” Rogers said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only one person has applied for and received funding under the LISC grant. Application instructions and paperwork are available online (PDF).