New York City

Advocacy group for struggling homeowners suggests alternatives to tax lien sale

June 18, 2024 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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CITYWIDE — FOLLOWING THE CITY’S REVIVAL OF THE TAX LIENS SALE to regroup on unpaid water and property taxes, one advocacy group calls it a punitive measure that hurts senior citizens, Black and other minority homeowners. The only city in the U.S. to continue securitizing its tax liens, NYC had relied on this system to collect unpaid property taxes and water bills by selling the debt to private entities, but it was discontinued in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. The sales typically displace hundreds of seniors and low-income families, particularly in Black and Brown communities. Kevin Wolfe, deputy director of advocacy & public affairs with the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, stated, “The same families and communities that have struggled to recover from the pandemic — who lost their jobs, whose small businesses and family finances suffered — are the same communities most likely to be targeted by the tax lien sale. Our data shows there is a more effective way to develop the sale that better protects low-income homeowners. These are not just assets — these are people’s homes. They are our neighbors and community.”

Kevin Wolfe itemized “proven measures to protect vulnerable homeowners from tax liens.” These include excluding 1-3 unit homes from the tax liens sale, improving payment plan accessibility by replacing the current income cap with an index based on household size and making it easier for heirs to enter into payment plans with the appropriate supporting materials.

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