WDWOT?

An unusual map shows the city's still struggling with a foreclosure rate of epic proportions.

To get a handle on how bad of a tax mess Detroit is sitting in right now, look no further than this depressing map showing every property in the city suffering "tax distress."

What looks like a big hunk of moldy cheese is in fact the property-tax status of 384,861* properties, as logged by Wayne County's online tax portal. The lighter yellow boxes represent more than 59,000 distressed buildings where the owners haven't paid their taxes. Squished among them are a honeycomb of orange boxes, indicating that these properties have such a large backlog of delinquent taxes that they're now subject to foreclosure. (Count those up and you arrive at about 74,000 doomed properties.) The plots shown in red, meanwhile, are the 18,246 properties that have already been foreclosed.

On the bright side, gray areas mean those places don't have tax issues. Lucky!

The map is the creation of LOVELAND Technologies, a Detroit-based maker of "crowdfunding and social mapping systems." On the full, interactive version, you can zoom down to the level of streets to see who's behind on their payments on your block. Then, when you've selected an individual property, the map offers several ways to balance the tax debt – paying the fees online, for instance, or seeking a poverty exemption or financial assistance from grant-giving institutions. That means this bit of urban cartography isn't just neat to look at, but might help repay a little of the $444 million in taxes and penalties owed around Detroit.

As to why they built this map, called "Why Don't We Own This?," the LOVELAND team says:

We strive to provide property information in a clean and interactive way that is intuitive to use while increasing the sense of ownership and power a citizen has in their city. Hopefully WDWOT helps prevent the accidental and unnecessary loss of properties to tax foreclosure and auction, and helps connect you with otherwise invisible opportunities for enlightenment, investment, charity, and support.

FYI: If you're actually using this service to scout out or pay taxes on Detroit properties, be sure to check with the city's official records to make sure the info is up to date.

* Not 84,861, as originally written. D'oh!

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  3. A photo of a visitor posing for a photo with Elvis in downtown Nashville
    Perspective

    Cities: Don’t Fall in the Branding Trap

    From Instagram stunts to Edison bulbs, why do so many cities’ marketing plans try to convince people that they’re exactly like somewhere else?

  4. A photo of a new car dealership
    Transportation

    Subprime Auto Loans Are Turning Car Ownership Into a Trap

    A record 7 million Americans are three months late on their car payments, revealing what could be cracks in the U.S. economy.

  5. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.