Our Story

The Tricycle Collective was born in response to the 2014 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure, at the time the largest of its kind in history.* With many properties selling for as low as $500, the auction is an incredible opportunity for investors and speculators, but as most of these are occupied residential homes, it can also be a personal tragedy for the people who live in them. In many cases, of the residents of those homes face eviction and displacement as a result of the tax foreclosure, and many of these homes ultimately become blighted. The result is a furthering of the current paradigm in which Detroit has thousands of people without homes and homes without people.

Driven by a frustration at the situation and the opportunity to help, the Tricycle Collective set out to contribute the starting bid of $500 to support residents of foreclosed houses to buy the homes they already lived in at auction. But where to start? – There were an estimated 9,000 occupied homes in the auction and many deserving Detroiters in need. The answer lay in a symbol of innocence and childhood– the tricycle– which sat on the porch of many homes in foreclosure. Tricycles and other childrens’ toys were a clear indication that these were not just houses, but homes and not just homes but homes to young children– and those are the houses that became the priority to support in the auction.

In the end  23,000 Detroit properties were auctioned by the treasurer, but at least 10 of those were bought with the support of The Tricycle Collective, in partnership with United Community Housing Coalition.

Since then, The Tricycle Collective has grown to focus on foreclosure prevention, offering information and outreach by door knocking and letter-writing. We have expanded our attention to the post-foreclosure process as well, helping recent home-buyers avoid reversion and helping residents of properties owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority to find a path to ownership.

Information and outreach is available to anyone, but our financial contributions are focused toward homes with young children. Ultimately, we try to keep Detroit communities together by helping individuals and families stay in the homes they already live in.

In advance of the 2015 auction, The Tricycle Collective raised over $20,000 and canvassed over 400 occupied homes in the auction to ensure that residents were aware of the auction and of their option to participate. We targeted neighborhoods around the homes that we have worked with in the last year and invited the residents of those homes to canvass their own neighborhoods. Ultimately, we built relationships with 31 families whose homes were up for auction and worked with UCHC and a private partner to bid on those homes. In the end, we were able to help save 18 of those houses in the auction– houses that are homes to 39 children. Unfortunately, due to high bidding prices, we lost 13 of those homes.

Again in 2016, we raised over $25,880 in our fall fundraiser and donated $25,500 to 51 families whose homes were in the auction. We have continued to host “storytelling” events to share the first-hand experiences of those who are living though tax foreclosure on their home to increase awareness and understanding of this issue.

Over the years, we have grown into a non-profit and begun to realize our original aspiration of becoming a COLLECTIVE!

To gain first-hand understanding of the forces that lead to foreclosure and to learn about the individual experiences of the families The Tricycle Collective has worked with, read some selected testimonials here. To hear the story of our organization’s origin, this video here shows it as presented during an event by “The Moth.”