‘Tricycle Collective’ aims to save 10 families from losing homes to tax foreclosure

Via Tricycle Collective
Via Tricycle Collective

Michele Oberholtzer was surveying tax-foreclosed properties in Detroit when she was overcome by the number of occupied homes that are up for auction.

Most depressing were the numerous houses with evidence of children – tricycles and other toys on the front yard or porch.

One family in need of help, via Tricycle Collective.
One family in need of help, via Tricycle Collective.

Oberholtzer decided she needed to do something about it and started the “Tricycle Collective,” a fundraiser to help at least 10 families retain their homes. The idea: Use donations to help families bid on their houses in the Wayne County tax foreclosure auction this month. The minimum bid is $500.

“I was heartbroken by how many of the foreclosed properties were well taken care of family homes,” Oberholtzer said. “Gardens, decorations, and, in many cases, tricycles, showed me glimpses of the human lives behind this issue. So few people knew about the auction or how they could save their house, that I decided I had to do something about it.”

Oberholtzer has reached the goal of raising $5,000, but she’s hoping to collect more money because some of the houses may sell for more than $500 each. And any extra money will be used for families on a waiting list.

The United Community Housing Coalition is partnering with Oberholtzer.

To donate, click here. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s incredible what a powerful positive impact such a small amount of money can have,” Oberholtzer said.

An estimated 10,000 of the 24,000 foreclosed properties in Wayne County are occupied.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Jackie


  • Jess

    The way we handle shit is pathetic. Kick out hard working families in a tight spot to sell it for nothing or leave it abandoned, instead of offering assistance programs that would not only reduce homelessness, but help to revitalize neighborhoods, lower crime, and help the city rebuild. ‘Merica.

  • Chinatown Shuffle

    I just bought one of these and have decided to empower my squatter as my business partner. For minimal rent ( very minimal ) he will stay on with his children while I strive to improve the neighborhood..or, what’s left of it..what suprises me most is the lack of discussion concerning the “new” homelessness in the D as investors move in and take back homes functioning as homeless shelters for years…

    • Michele

      This is amazing! I wish more of the home purchasers were like you. Sadly most auction purchases end in eviction and displacement- a personal tragedy for those affected and a citywide disaster when you consider the number of people affected

  • queenie1

    Happy to see Michelle doing this! It is a crying shame how many houses are now left abandoned when with just a little help, the families could still be living there.

    • The tax rates that drive families out of the city/county are a greater shame. Once the bankruptcy is finalized, they’ll be legally allowed to lower it.

  • bebow

    She should take up another collection for hiring attorneys to appeal their tax assessments.

    • Michele

      The United Community Housing Coalition will work with each of these families to pursue reassessments for the over-valued properties. First we have to keep them in the houses though!

      • bebow

        Michelle, while I applaud your interest, enthusiasm, and effort, I made the above comment as a prompt. You are a thinking person, an engineer. The trail you are contemplating has been trekked by many others before you. The situations, in most cases, are far more complicated than simple auction purchases and supports will remedy. People unable to scrape together $500 to keep a roof overhead are often grappling with serious underlying issues that contribute to living in a chronic state of crisis. Also, people who haven’t done the work necessary to achieve home ownership are poorly prepared to hang on to their property going forward. A substantial portion of Detroit’s underclass maintains a nomadic lifestyle. Perhaps you have something more in mind than this piece reports. If I may, your STEM skills could be very useful in helping Detroit’s children, because what’s stored in their heads will not be swept away by the next crisis.

        • Michele

          Thanks for the thought-provoking feedback, I hear what you are saying. i’d rather help 10 families in a lasting way than 100 superficially.

          • bebow

            You’re welcome.