Innovation: With $194,000 Coalition Saves 150 Homes

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January 9, 2011; Source: Detroit Free Press | This kind of story exhibits everyday nonprofit innovation at its best. In Michigan the United Community Housing Coalition recognized an opportunity to help keep people in their homes when the county decided to take its auctions of properties seized for unpaid taxes online.

Using a tax delinquency list the group contacted 500 of those who had lost their houses proposing that they bid on them at auction. They suggested that they put as much money as possible aside for the auction. The coalition set up a computer bank on auction day and was able to save 150 of the 180 houses they bid on. One woman bid $500 on her house, which was being held for a $5,500 tax arrears and got it when no one else bid.

The coalition says it plans to run the same process next year. Linda Nuszkowski of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force said, "We have hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at the foreclosure problem in Michigan with less than impressive results . . . This shows what kind of impact you can have with a small amount of money."—Ruth McCambridge