You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

30 cats cleared from 2nd foreclosed home in 2 weeks as Ypsilanti Township plans vacant home ordinance

By Tom Perkins


More than 30 cats were removed from a bank-owned home on McGregor Road.

Tom Perkins | For

For the second time in as many weeks, the Humane Society of Huron Valley had to pull more than 30 cats, several dogs and other assorted wildlife out of a foreclosed Ypsilanti Township home owned by an out-of-town bank.

The home is packed with debris, the floor is covered in animal feces and saturated with urine and the stench is noticeable outside the home.

It's the latest example of why township officials are pursuing a new vacant home ordinance, they said this week as they described the proposed program.

The house, at 2149 McGregor Road, is also full of a variety of code violations, township officials said.

They add that the institution that has owned it since July 7 - Irving, Texas-based CitiMortgage, Inc - has failed to secure it and isn’t responding to township correspondence.

Township attorneys received approval to take legal action at the Board of Trustee’s meeting this week.

But prior to the board approving legal action against CitiMortgage, officials discussed a proposed new ordinance intended to help address deterioration in neighborhoods by nipping such problems in the bud.

Ypsilanti Township has a high foreclosure rate and a steady stream of stories about neglected and abandoned properties posing serious heath risks to neighbors in recent years.

The ordinance would require owners of properties vacant for 30 days to register the homes or businesses with the township and allow township officials to inspect them. The township’s office of community standards would keep a registry of vacant properties and officials would visit them annually.

Mike Radzik, director of the office of community standards, said the ordinance will decrease the number of seriously blighted foreclosed properties by bringing them to officials’ attention much sooner.

“We’ve had so many cases where we become aware of an abandoned home after the electricity’s shut off so the sump pump isn’t working and the basement is now a swimming pool,” Radzik said. “There will be the mold, the odor, the rodents and animals wll have taken over the house.

"With this ordinance, we can get in there and monitor the houses so they don’t get to that point," he said. "In the long run, hopefully, it will reduce our nuisance properties and costs.”


The neglected home owned by a bank on McGregor Road.

Tom Perkins | For

The office of community standards is working with the civil division of the sheriff’s department to identify homes as they’re foreclosed and purchased. Radzik said the sheriff’s office holds a foreclosure auction each Thursday and can provide township officials with a list of recently foreclosed homes and their owners.

That means the township could know within a matter of hours when a home is foreclosed and purchased instead of months or years.

One of the driving issues behind exploring the ordinance is the strain on township resources. When a nuisance property is brought to the township’s attention because, for example, the cockroach infestation and mold odors from an abandoned home are spilling over into neighboring properties, the township must act quickly.

In most serious cases like that, the owner, whether it is a bank or individual, is unresponsive. The township must pay their attorneys to take legal action, pay to have a local company come board to secure the home, pay for a title search and pay up front to fix the issues.

Often times a lien is placed on the homes, though not all costs are recovered. Radzik estimated the cost of securing a house on Davis Street and clearing it of 50 cats cost the township as much as $10,000 several weeks ago.

He said that is about average for a blighted property in Ypsilanti Township, and they see new properties weekly.

In the most severe cases, the township has spent up to $40,000 to abate a nuisance property that posed a serious health risk to neighbors. If a house needs to be demolished, that can run between $15,000 and $25,000, though funds can often be recouped.

Neighbors also suffer financially because their home values are significantly impacted by blighted homes.

"It's not fair to homeowners when speculators come in and say 'Why should I pay you market value when the neighbor's house is overrun by vermin, cats, dogs, cockroaches and everything else?'" township attorney Dough Winters said. "It affects property values when the home is boarded and looking like the Addams Family house."

Once the sheriff’s department alerts the township to the foreclosed properties, officials would then contact the new owner, which is a bank or mortgage company in most cases, and notify them of the ordinance requiring the home to be registered. If a bank ignores the notification, then Winters said officials can assess the situation and issue a civil infraction handled in district court.

A lien would be placed on the property to cover the the costs associated with mowing the lawns, securing the house and going to court, if the owner fails to appear. In the case of a home that might have more serious issues, the township can obtain an administrative search warrant and proceed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.

Winters blasted the banks and federal government, which owns mortgage underwriters Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He said the township has "sued every bank in the country at this point."

"This is another tool in our arsenal of weapons helping us stabilize neighborhoods," he said. "The biggest investment people make is their homes. If you have one home that went bad on the street it's like a cancer, and you can lose an entire street if you don't act quickly, so we have to do what we can to prevent a cancer from spreading."

Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said she supported the ordinance and called it an effective measure in getting ahead of the blight related issues stemming from foreclosures.

She also expressed frustration with the banks for neglecting properties and saddling the township with responsibility for maintaining and cleaning up the homes.

"The banks, mortgage companies and federal government do not care what havoc they have created bringing down the stability of neighborhoods that require local taxpayers to fund circuit court action," Stumbo said. "Our goal is to get cooperation from these institutions by having them be part of the process and holding them accountable.

"They received a huge bailout and local governments continue to take care of their property and their problems with local taxpayer money."

The township board didn’t take any action on Tuesday, and staff will bring a first reading of the ordinance to the next regular meeting.



Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:18 a.m.

This article is not true the owner of this home ran a cat rescue the cats were fixed and vaccinated. He was foreclosed on by citi bank due to loss of employment. He asked the humane society for help and was told numerous times that the cats would be put down even though they were all healthy. The house was not left in the condition they are trying to say it was. The picture only shows clutter on the floor, There were no wild animals ever!! He had two dogs that were adopted out . I was one of the people that took one of the dogs and 2 cats. It took contacting Washtanaw county animal control by a friend of mine and the owner to force the humane society to help adopt all remaining cats to loving homes, This man loves cats and many were drop offs or strays he spent 150-175 a week for food and litter not including vaccinations, medications & them being fixed. Some of the cats he Rescued were severely abused including loss of limbs & eyes needing surgery he paid for himself. After losing his job he no longer could afford to take care of himself let alone the cats the human society refused to help telling him that they would put them all down defeating the whole purpose of what he was trying to accomplish he continued to care for them with only his unemployment feeding them before himself, not able to pay his mortgage any longer and them Never serving him eviction papers the Township & Washtanaw county police showed up with YUCA telling him that they were shutting his water off because he had no electricity yet he had not had electricity for a year using a generator and wood burning stove for power and heat thus creating an unsanitary condition in the home having no water to clean or give the cats fresh water to survive. Forcing him to leave his home with no where to go. WHAT WOULD YOU DO!! I contacted my friend who owned the home when i read this article, he told me he was never interviewed giving him an opportunity to let them know the facts not just mad


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:22 a.m.

Made up lies, Sorry they cut out the end of my response and tell me why I can't go back and edit the response i just wrote!!!!


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Good job with this story Tom. I am in total agreement with the township. To include a property management company to care for homes that are owned by out of state peoples, and the owner is responsible for all cost, whether the house is worth it or not. They have absolutely no business owning a property that they will never see., first off. Second, there should be a one year proposed stay of uninhabited dwellings. This will get the corporations of their behinds and do something with these abandoned properties.The townships or cities, should not have to flip the bill for someone to use it for a tax write off. This takes money from tax payer's in two ways. This should be illegal, if our taxes are being used to keep someone's property up, they should not be able to use it for a tax shelter. All bills occurred should be billed in full to the owners, no matter of how much the dwellings are worth.

Cendra Lynn

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

Go after the banks?? Please! There is no one at the banks to handle these problems. Extensive experience with Citi showed that it's a case of right hand not knowing left hand exists and left hand talks only to three extra hands, and there are more hands that come in when something is nearly settled. All calls are handled by call centers. No one in any call center knows the phone number of anyone in the bank. They communicate via computer. Customers have no recourse after they've exhausted the knowledge of the call center. Catherine McClary, County Treasurer, is to be lauded for creating a bureau to help homeowners facing foreclosure or trying to re-finance. The staff are knowledgeable, energetic, excellent, and don't give up. They follow the banks through every error and force action from the banks. Most homeowners have the power of Fannie May or Freddie Mack behind them. Townships will not have such clout and banks like Citi have enough money to lose hundreds of lawsuits. There is nothing forcing them to sit up and take notice. It's enough to make one want to organize protests and street marches....oh, wait! Is that what those folks are doing downtown and in NYC and Oakland??

Barb's Mom

Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.

For all of you talking about the banks not doing enough to keep the families in the houses. My 29 year old daughter was murdered in her house last November. There was no estate. We are still getting mail from the bank trying to set up appointments to change her mortgage so the house can be kept. We told the bank back when she was murdered that there was no estate but we still get notices at least once a month.

Ken Boyd

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

I am surprised that some neighbors have not taken matters into their own hands and set long foreclosed properties ablaze. Many of these homes will never be sellable, and are health and safety risks to the neighborhood. I am not advocating arson as a solution, I am just saying that at some point people will seek their own solutions.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Can't the ordinance be stronger, i.e. any property uninhabited and ownership not responding makes the property abandoned and subject to whatever processes the township deems necessary. "Use it or lose it."

Ken Boyd

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

I am surprised that banks are not already forfeiting properties via tax abandonment. Dump the property on local government and let them deal with it.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Do what Mayor Bing of Detroit is doing. Tear down the houses. He has claimed 3000 so far and this one street I drive down? Looks terrific now that the blight is going away. Time to have the county grab and tear them down. As for the animals? Glad they are safe and sound.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

Just what we need another law to improve the effieciency of cleaning up abandon homes. One could argue what have the debt owners have to do with the condition of the house - plenty. Just sue the lein holder, the bank. Enough do it & the bank folds. Now, what do we do about the economy? The sensible thing to do is work with the home owner. Suspend, reduce the payment to give them a chance to get bsck on their feet. They will have to prove they are seriously working at it. Banks better off facing a lot of small losses; but more difficult to manage earnings this way off setting profits by declaring losses. Do the banks care about the neighborhood? No! Do they care about earnings? Yes! Do those who regulate banks care about the neighborhoods? Ah, tough one to answer. CitiCorp bought CountryWide & laid off a few people. Maybe they should have held on to those people? State Attorney generals should be better able to work together to bring more pressure on the 'Loss' deptartments of banks when the problem is outside the State.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

WOW, house still has a water heater...


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

And we the voters approve of the Washtenaw County Commissioners cutting funding for the Humane Society, why?? These poor cats. They're doomed. The Humane Society is already overfilled. I wish people would get their animals fixed; and I wish we could fix the membership making up the Washtenaw County Commissioners.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

This is exactly why the commissioners need to leave the contract in the capable hands of the Humane Society of Huron Valley and come to the realization that they are already going above and beyond. The problem is that the commisioners feel that they can cut the contract amount by 50% and then turn a blind eye after its done. Its not just the animals that are going to suffer - its the neighborhoods as well. Someone commented that they neighbors didn't complain - are you sure they didnt? Maybe they complained and it fell upon deaf ears. I'm sure if the HSHV received a call it would have been acted upon quickly. We need to feel confident in who's running the show. We need to know our neighborhoods are safe when there is an abundance of vacant homes. I doubt any of the commissioners voting on the cuts live in this neighborhood.....


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

The contract with HVHS did not prevent this ! "The problem is that the commissioners feel that they can cut the contract amount by 50% and then turn a blind eye after its done." No the problem is we as tax payers want the same services provided with less revenue. "Someone commented that they neighbors didn't complain - are you sure they didnt? Maybe they complained and it fell upon deaf ears. I'm sure if the HSHV received a call it would have been acted upon quickly" Speculation.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

I am so sick of animal stories and debates! How about some stories about what goes on with some of the youth in this county. And I don't mean hidden on some obscure page where you have to click 5 links to find it.


Sat, Nov 5, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

And yet you read the story and made a comment?


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

"I am so sick of animal stories and debates!" so why read it? Nobody is forcing you. If you want to read about the youth, read on - there are plenty of stories about local sporting events and such. If you don't like the subject matter, don't read it!


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

Small bone to pick: the government doesn't own Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It subsidizes them, but they are distinct entities...


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

Cats cause foreclosures.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

"The sherriff has foreclosure sales each Thursday" did this ever become protocol? I get they classify this as a civil matter but IMO this can't be the best approach most notably when the community has to pass an ordinance to enforce clean-up, up keep, or whatever needs to be done at these homes. Obviously the police are not taking care of the enforcement which i don't think should be their responsibility anyway. The responsibility should fall under the community development department who has the best interest to see the home lived in, or torn down and something new built there.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Dogs and Cats living together? This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;noredirect=1</a>


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

I loved it. Needed that humor after the week I've had.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

nice link!

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

Thanks to Township officials for continuing the pro-active approach to blight. Considering the lack of resources, you are doing fine work. Keep it up!


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

I have an idea. Give the Township 30 Days to create Jobs. So Peoples homes are not put in the state of foreclosure. They should be spending every waking moment working to create and retain jobs. If they can't do this they need to be out of a job. This is an issue that the state needs to step in and take control of both the city and twp.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

Private industry has not been creating jobs in Michigan. This state was abandoned by industry to put their jobs in other countries where people work for $25 per week with no bennies. In most cases, these jobs don't maintain a decent standard of living there, either.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

toofmullets: if my assertion that private enterprise creates jobs rather than government is &quot;demonstrably false,&quot; then please demonstrate the falsehood with facts. For someone to sign the back of a paycheck, someone has to sign the front--the person signing the front is private enterprise not government. Providing training and incentives to some portion of the market may benefit that portion of the market, but that money was taxed from some other portion of the market.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

@no flamers - your statement is demonstrably false. There are thousands of jobs in Washtenaw County that were created by many different levels of government.

no flamers!

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Government doesn't create jobs, private industry does. The best government is one that doesn't interfere with the ability of private industry to create jobs and that doesn't distort economic markets by picking winners or losers (like Michigan's prior policy of having high/uncompetitive business taxes but giving huge tax breaks to those businesses savey and wealthy enough to seek tax breaks). In any event, job creation isn't a Township activity.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the cats can contact the Humane Society of Huron Valley at 734-662-5585.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

That is really rough to call a mercy euthanasia a killing? O my. Please call it what it is, euthanasia not a killing. I am still traumatized by having to leave the room after having to put ours to sleep after she had a massive stroke. She even fought the meds to help her. Sad sad. I wish you had stated that differently. We can't have cats but are still considering a foster dog. We have room for one more.

paul yaskanin

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

A couple of months ago, my cat died. Very sad. I went the the Hunane Society and got a new one (followed by another one that had been given to my vet to be killed). It was (and still is) very depressing going to the Humane Society. This place is already full to the top with unwanted cats. Most of the animals are mature and have just been adbandoned by their &quot;families&quot;. I myself could never do that. I one I got from the HS was 11 years old, very friendly and loving. This is NOT a no kill facility. If anyone has the room in their home and heart, please go adopt one (or two).

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Thanks for saying this. I would certainly adopt another animal but we now have 3 dogs and 2 cats. To be a responsible pet owner you need to make sure you can afford their care. We are struggling to do that now.

Rose Garden

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

I have wondered why banks don't restructure loans so that owners can afford to stay in them. Wouldn't it be better to receive, say, $500 a month rather than nothing? Why do the banks foreclose, resell them at a huge loss or maintain them as they deteriorate?


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

They were bailed out. They were more willing to negotiate before when they needed the money.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

Because they can get away with it! They currently borrow money form the fed for about .25% ( notice the point) what do they loan it to you for? Many of the cronies from Wall Street on now in the White House!

Susan Karp

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

Where would these 50+ cats, and other abandoned and neglected animals go if not for The Humane Society of Huron Valley? If the County Commissioners choose to sever their working relationship with HSHV, our county will need to pick up the burden of capturing, transporting, providing vet care, feeding, and housing all of these animals for an indefinite period of time. These animals aren't strays, they are now an abuse case and will be in the court system for who knows how long? HSHV will provide compassionate care to all of these neglected cats for as long as it takes. Can the County Commissioners do better?


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

The county will not do all that. The animals will be shot or otherwise disposed of.

Guinea Pig in a Tophat

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

Well said!


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

Right on, Susan. Not to mention the &quot;compassionate care&quot; will include neutering. HSHV is a local treasure not everyone fully appreciates.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

I agree with everything being done here, once again the Township is doing its very best to protects homeowners and their property values! That is the purpose of Government to protect the people not to control the people. As for the banks we saved them and this is how they treat us, they get fat bonuses and the residents get reduced property values. If loans were given property values would not be this low, it is a double edge sword, no loans the banks get low prices. Either way the residents lose. Let us remember that after the banks forecloses on the Court Room steps there is still a six month redemption period whereas the owner could still redeem his property. However thanks to the banks not providing loans that just about impossible these days. Once again Ypsilanti Township is not giving up without an all out fight! Thank you.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

Nice work Ypsi Twp.!!!


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Nice Comment TT!

Barb's Mom

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

The article says &quot;The ordinance would require owners of properties vacant for 30 days to register the homes or businesses with the township and allow township officials to inspect them. The township's office of community standards would keep a registry of vacant properties and officials would visit them annually.&quot; This ordinance would not have even been in effect on this property as the article also says that the bank owned the property since October 7. It has not been 30 days. And what good does an inspection once a year do? The house could be inspected one month and the next have major problems that wouldn't be known for 11 more months. It takes a long time for a bank to foreclose on a property now. Why didn't the neighbors notify the township about the problem? Also how about a leash law for cats? Part of the problem is all the cats that are let outside that aren't fixed and then you get more unwanted litters of cats running loose.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

(Which I see is not stated in my first comment, in which that phrase should be &quot;...have no natural predators.&quot; Sorry about that.)


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Because they're available, Gramma, not because they are naturally their prey.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Coyotes prey on cats.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Yep. Cats belong indoors--they are non-native and have no predators. They decimate songbird populations, poop hither and yon and have no predators. Keep them inside where they belong!


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Have you ever tried to put 30 cats on a leash? Good luck with that.

Tom Perkins

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

CitiMortgage took over the property on July 7, not Oct. 7. I corrected the story. Thanks.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

Who gets punished for not leasing stray cats?


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

I would assume taxes are delinquent within 6 months. Shouldn't there be something happening at that time?


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

I'm sure the animals just showed up and let themselves in. Maybe the township should pass an execessive animal ordinance. The neighbors should have complained about the smell and feceses long before the foreclosure. This is an issue of personal responsibility. Although in todays society, the individual is never at fault, it is the bank, or wallstreet.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

&quot;It's an issue of personal responsibility,&quot; but unfortunately the previous owner failed in their responsibility. Now, the new owner, which happens to be a bank, bears the responsibility. So, I agree with your post, but your attempt at sarcasm makes your comment seem contradictory.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

@outdoor - Did you read that the bank owns the property? They are totally at fault because they own the property.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

I am also sick of individuals getting bailed out, while the banks have to fend for themselves. Oh, wait.

fred altenbernt

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

Yes, go after the banks, they have been the cause of many of the problems for these homes. And the government needs to be on board with this too. There is no need to have the township pick up these costs/

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 11:01 a.m.

No mention of the suffering of the animals in this sad story. Were they there as a result of hoarding? Or was there an opening where homeless animals could get in? What did they eat? It seems that all of the emphasis is placed on declining property values of neighboring homes. Did any of the neighbors wonder about the animals? And Washtenaw County wants to cut funds to the Humane Society.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

In all likelihood, the cats (and dogs) are feral. As such, they are likely unadoptable and will either be neutered and return to the neighborhood or they'll be euthanized.


Fri, Nov 4, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Really not the point of the story. This isn't an animal cruelty article. Its was even mentioned in the article how animals and rodents tend to just take over these homes after the power has been turned off. Also its been bank owned since July 7th. If the animals were locked in there, they more than likely would have found 30 dead cats unless they found a way out.