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