There is one huge source of income that NYC has enjoyed since 1996, that few of us are aware of. And that is what we consider, not only illegal but immoral as well. We’re taking up the issue of the arguable and repugnant “tax lien” sales fiasco for collecting unpaid property and water debts from home owners who fall behind, forget or have heirs that don’t pay attention to bills that accumulate from their deceased parents’ properties. That’s where properties are sold off at lien auctions because of default in taxes to outside investors.
The good news is that newly sworn in Mayor, Eric Adams agrees with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams to cease the practice of selling off these tax liens as soon as possible. This obnoxious form of income generates tens of millions of bucks each year. Of course, city leaders whose main concern is usually how much money they can suck in from our property owning citizens in order for them to continue their reckless spending. Those affected are usually small property owners, who for one reason or another are late or otherwise negligent in paying their tax bills, then having more fees and interest added on to what they already owe, sometimes resulting in foreclosure and the city taking over the properties for non-payment. They are then sold off at auction. We call on the city to create a committee of retired real estate executives who will come to the aid of those targeted and assist them to retain, rehabilitate and keep their investments.
Tax lien sales currently impacts homeowners of color, disproportionately. A concerned advocacy group, the Coalition of Affordable Homes, found that smaller property owners are hit hard, leading to unfortunate consequences for their helpless tenants who many times are turned into homeless victims with these sales to others usually not living in or concerned about the immediate community. Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents owners of rent-regulated properties brought to the attention of the City that no one seems to see the effects of this ruling on those who pay rent and have little or no involvement in the taxes or liens against the properties that offer them roofs over their heads.
Council Speaker Adams, in speaking of this issue stated: “Citizens of this city should not have to be forced out of their homes” for unpaid bills. She, along with Mayor Adams want to change the structure of the tax lien to change the harm it has done to too many New Yorkers. We encourage a task force to be put together to focus on alternatives to the current tax lien sale process to ensure not only that the city can continue collecting its necessary taxes needed to fuel the city’s growth but to as well, help homeowners and their tenants to remain in their homes. It’s about time that those people who own property in the city are treated with respect and dignity by those elected by them. We feel the base of our city’s strength is with the small property owner who has invested in a home or business be encouraged to stay afloat and continue to contribute to the growth and prosperity of our city.