Here's more evidence of how political ineptitude exacerbates an already intractable problem. The Huffington Post reports on a surrealistic situation around Detroit:
On Sept. 7, officials in Wayne County, Michigan, began selling off roughly 14,000 homes in what has become the nation’s largest foreclosure auction.
But the foreclosures in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, aren’t because homeowners owe money to banks. People here are losing their homes because of unpaid property taxes ― taxes that, in many cases, are based on outrageously high assessments that have not been updated for more than two decades.
Each municipality is responsible for conducting its own property assessments, but Detroit is several decades behind. Most of these houses were last assessed in the mid-1990s, and the region’s housing market has cratered in the years since. The median home here is worth $40,600 less than it was in 2007, and less than half what it was worth in the 1990s, according to estimates from the real estate website Zillow. Residents are being charged far more than they should rightfully owe.
“You’re getting taxes assessed on a $30,000 or $40,000 property value for a house that probably couldn’t sell for more than $5,000,” explained Ted Phillips, executive director of the advocacy group United Community Housing Coalition.