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. a photo of the Eiffel Tower with the words "Made for Sharing" projected on it
    Life

    How France Tries to Keep English Out of Public Life

    France has a long history of using official institutions to protect the French language from outside influence. Still, English keeps working its way in.

  2. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  3. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  4. An illustration of a turtle with a city on its shell
    Transportation

    Why Speed Kills Cities

    U.S. cities are dropping urban speed limits in an effort to boost safety and lower crash rates. But the benefits of less-rapid urban mobility don’t end there.  

  5. Maps

    The Map That Made Los Angeles Make Sense

    For generations in Southern California, the Thomas Guide led drivers through the streets of Los Angeles. Now apps do that. Did something get lost along the way?

×