'We don't want to take your house:' Avoiding property tax foreclosure

MILWAUKEE -- In 2019, the city of Milwaukee foreclosed on about 400 homes for unpaid taxes.

But, numbers would have been twice as high if it weren't for an interest-free payment program. It's a program that's helping people stay in their homes.

Milwaukee City Treasurer Spencer Coggs

Many people pay those property taxes at City Hall, while others struggle to find the money.

Milwaukee Treasurer Spencer Coggs says property tax foreclosures in the city are going down, from 938 in 2015 to 405 last year.

But those numbers don't paint the full picture.

Five years ago, just 38% of Milwaukee homeowners were able to save their houses after getting a foreclosure notice. Last year, it was up to 58%.

One big reason? Milwaukee's interest-free installment plans.

"More and more people have been able to keep their homes since they've taken advantage," said Coggs.

Payments are made over ten months, the first is due on the tax deadline of January 31.

On the City Treasurer's website, is a form to sign up for electronic payments.

"This can be a big bill to pay off, especially if you don't have it escrowed with your mortgage," said Alexandra Cisneros with GreenPath.

GreenPath is a local financial counseling service anyone can call.

"To just have a conversation with another person that won't judge you, will help you review every option that you do have," said Cisneros.

Foreclosure help can also be found at Take Root Milwaukee, which endorses the installment plans.

"It's wonderful to be able to pay a portion of that bill," said Jessica Wetzel with Take Root Milwaukee. "We're talking $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, where that first payment maybe something closer to $400."

With the deadline fast approaching, now is the time to act.

It's important to make that first payment to avoid delinquency.