An open data project sought to battle tax foreclosures by arming residents with information. It may have empowered property speculators more than anyone.
Nfr Esters knew she couldn’t save the family house through conventional means. She had inherited the duplex on the East Side of Detroit from her great-grandfather in 2010, but a pipe burst before she moved back to the city, flooding the basement and racking up a $4,000 water bill that the city added to her property taxes. Esters would surely lose the house to tax foreclosure—but there was still hope.