Treasurer Sabree. Photo courtesy the Wayne County Treasurer's Office.
Treasurer Sabree. Photo courtesy the Wayne County Treasurer's Office.

Over the last four years, Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree has reduced foreclosures by 86%. That matters now more than ever.

DETROIT, MI—Wayne County is in a strong position to address the next, looming, foreclosure crisis created in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

At the most basic level, what governments do is collect money and spend that money. Taxes, fines and fees get turned into roads, schools and jobs. While city commissions, county boards and state legislatures decide how that money will be collected and spent, the actual collecting and spending falls to people like Eric Sabree.

Reducing Wayne County’s Evictions

Sabree serves as the Wayne County treasurer, and has been working to tailor the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office (WCTO) to suit the community he serves. 

“Over the past four years, the WCTO has engaged in a new approach to management and productivity which involves extensive staff training by subject-matter experts,” wrote Sabree. “As the WCTO continues to focus on strategic planning, and the alignment of resources and goals, I remain optimistic that the efforts of the past four years and the upcoming years will continue to strengthen and stabilize Wayne County communities.”

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Among his efforts as treasurer, Sabre has worked to reduce Wayne County’s foreclosure rate. In their most recent report, his office announced that during his tenure, Sabree has reduced the foreclosure rate in Detroit by over 80%. 

Following the worst municipal bankruptcy in American history, Detroit faced a foreclosure crisis when Sabree was elected in 2016. Writing for Crain’s in 2017, Sabree laid out his priorities for handling that crisis. 

“From my perspective, we have a firm grasp on the challenge and can demonstrate great progress in foreclosure reductions,” he said. “We are optimistic that the worst is behind us.”

Now, in 2020, another foreclosure crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and the strain placed on local budgets by needing to respond to that pandemic looms on the horizon, reports CNBC

An Independent Treasurer Makes a Difference

That makes the WCTO more important than ever. And that importance is why Sabree says it’s important the treasurer is an elected official.

 “It is critical that the county’s finances are in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, operates with integrity and has a genuine concern for the people.” 

Treasurer Eric Sabree

“The Treasurer’s Office is an office created by the Michigan Constitution, separating the collection, investment and disposition of funds from other offices, giving it a degree of independence and security,“ Sabree told The ‘Gander.

Sabree has used that independence to implement programs informing Wayne County residents of payment options, in an attempt to prevent things like foreclosures. His office has also lobbied the state legislature to institute programs that have kept 100,000 Wayne County residents out of foreclosure as of the most recent WCTO report. 

On top of that, the WCTO has gathered private charitable resources to help prevent foreclosures to families facing financial hardships, as many Detroiters are during the pandemic. 

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All the while, Sabree has increased returns on the county’s investments five-fold.

“The many substantive accomplishments of the WCTO would not have been possible without the engagement of philanthropic and community partners and the regular interaction with the County, local municipalities and the Office of the State Treasurer,” he wrote. “I look ahead with the continued responsibility for the receipt, custody, investment and disbursement of all county funds.”