New application could help homeowners save their homes

April 8, 2015 Anna Spivak
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In advance of a May 15 sale by the City of New York of homes with tax liens against them, one citywide non-profit has made available to the general public a new interactive map application that might help homeowners begin the process of getting themselves out of hot water.

The new web-based tool developed by the Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN), is a Lien Sale Tracker – an application that lists any households on the 60 and 90-day lien sale lists in New York City.

The map is compiled using information from the Department of Finance (DOF), which sells the liens of any homes that have unpaid property taxes, water bills or other outstanding charges to third-party collection agencies. These sales could eventually add more of a financial burden on the homeowner, or result in foreclosure.

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The tracker shows users how many households in each Community District and City Council District have liens that are scheduled to be sold. Bay Ridge’s own Community District 10, among the districts with the lowest lien totals out of the 6,896 homes on the 60-Day Lien list in all of Brooklyn, currently has 115 households listed.

Jamaica, Queens takes the top spot out of all five boroughs with 1,203 homes on the 60-Day list; Brooklyn’s East New York and Bed Stuy come in second and third with 1,165 and 845 respectively.

“The tax lien sale could put thousands of families in danger of foreclosure,” said Christie Peale, executive director of CNYCN. “Our tracker allows community members and stakeholders to see the number of homes with tax liens in their neighborhood, bringing awareness to the issue and helping them mobilize and alert their neighbors of their options – payment plans, special exemptions, and more – before the sale.”

Once the tax lien is sold to a collection agency, the company can add fees and tag on interest upwards of 18 percent to the existing debt. A lien sale comes at the end of a long and often excruciating process. According to CNYCN, DOF sends five notices to “at risk” homes before the sale.

“The priority for the Department of Finance is to resolve delinquent tax situations with property owners before liens are sold,” said Sonia Alleyne, press officer for the DOF. “The city only sells liens when owners fail to respond to our notices by making payment or entering into a payment agreement. We are encouraged by the efforts of the tracker, which may help to reduce the number of liens being sold.”

To access the map, visit Seniors, disabled individuals, veterans or active-duty military personnel may be eligible for payment extensions via forms available on DOF’s website.

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