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Squat to Own

Wayne County Treasury officials decided last week to go door-to-door in an attempt to make deals with squatters in properties listed in last fall's tax auctions that did not sell. There were about 6,500 of those which may go for as little as $500. In a pretty clear slam for the initiative, the News writes that this is a "stark sign that paying property taxes is optional for some." Eric Sabree, deputy treasurer, defends the program, which might keep people in 1,500 properties that would otherwise be abandoned. "We don't want to encourage it but we don't want to encourage people leaving their houses either. It was auctioned twice and nobody bought it. That's a big risk for the owner to take. A vacant house is not going to help anybody." The News says the city lost nearly $17.6 million in unpaid taxes for units with squatters last year. [The Detroit News]