Despite growing claims of Detroit making a “comeback,” the city is currently facing a class-action lawsuit for enacting unfair property tax foreclosures that violate Michigan’s state constitution. As downtown Detroit becomes increasingly gentrified, thousands of the city’s longtime residents, mostly African-American families, have lost their homes to foreclosure for property taxes they should not have been paying in the first place because the poverty tax exemption excuses those below a certain income from paying. Detroit is now 80% African-American, and 40% of the city’s residents live below the federal poverty line. “When you think about Detroit coming back … it is about a comeback for seven square miles that includes downtown,” says professor Bernadette Atuahene of the Chicago-Kent College of Law. “When you look at the rest of Detroit, the majority of Detroit and, let’s be real, Black Detroit, there is no comeback.” We spoke with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and professor Atuahene about why they are rejecting claims that Detroit is making a comeback when much of the city is facing poverty and a growing housing crisis. “If you go to my neighborhoods, they’re not coming back from whatever the heck the folks are saying they’re coming back from. … You see neighborhood after neighborhood that has been left behind,” says Rep. Tlaib.
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