Sarah Alvarez

Sarah Alvarez is founder of Outlier Media, a journalism service that delivers data reporting and information to low-income news consumers over SMS and message apps. She is a former lawyer and former public radio reporter and was a 2015 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She was assisted in this report by Kenny Jacoby, a University of Oregon journalism student.

Articles

The University of Michigan invested big in Detroit. Now come the evictions.

July 12, 2019 | Sarah Alvarez

U-M’s endowment’s investment in a firm that buys and renovates tax-foreclosed homes in Detroit is prompting evictions and big equity questions in a rapidly changing city. 

Baby, it’s cold outside, and new rules make it harder to get help in Michigan

December 13, 2018 | Sarah Alvarez

Each year, Michigan helps 122,000 families keep the heat on when bills rise too high. This year, the state is enforcing controversial asset tests meant to crack down on fraud.

Real estate is hot in Detroit. But its top owner, the city, isn’t selling.

August 21, 2018 | Sarah Alvarez, Leah Samuel

The Detroit Land Bank owns 20 percent of all residential property in the city. But just 3 percent of its holdings are for sale, frustrating would-be homeowners.

Foreclosed for the cost of an iPhone. That’s life in Wayne County.

May 17, 2018 | Sarah Alvarez

Tax foreclosures are decreasing in Detroit, but residents are still losing their homes for less than $1,000 debts.

Owe taxes? That’s OK. Wayne County will still sell you foreclosed homes.

October 12, 2017 | Sarah Alvarez

A law was supposed to stop land speculators from buying homes at tax auctions. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Detroit court gets tough on traffic tickets. County taxpayers get stuck with tab

June 8, 2017 | Sarah Alvarez

A get-tough approach is sending scofflaws to jail for unpaid misdemeanor tickets. But it costs the county more to jail them than it generates for the city in ticket revenue and, now, even the sheriff is complaining.

A registry will help fix abuses in Detroit’s home rental market

February 16, 2017 | Sarah Alvarez

People who rent homes in Detroit are often at the mercy of unscrupulous or negligent landlords. The city should stiffen inspection laws and help average Detroiters get better information on rental properties.

How parents can negotiate their child’s path through special education

December 16, 2014 | Sarah Alvarez

All parents of kids with disabilities have a lot to know when it comes to education, leaving parents searching for tips and advice from other parents, special education officials and advocates on how best to get the services they think their child