and Water Status at April 3rd Meeting
There are more than eight hundred properties from the Bedford-Stuyvesant area listed on the 60-Day Notice of Tax Lien Sale which was published on March 11th in the Daily News. This year, in addition to citing those who may owe eight quarters or more in unpaid property taxes, the list also includes people who are behind three years or more in paying water and/or sewer charges. Community groups and elected officials have banded together under the banner of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Economic and Physical Development Task Force to alert the community to this growing crisis.
On Wednesday, April 3rd, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., property owners are urged to attend the Tax Lien Assistance Session at Boys and Girls High School that is designed to help resolve payment issues. Representatives from the Department of Finance and the Environmental Protection Agency will be on hand with computer access to all properties. They will be able to give the latest status of the property, discuss special programs for seniors and others, and make arrangements for installment payments. According to Councilman Albert Vann, who is sponsoring the session, AThis is a great opportunity for homeowners to handle their affairs right here in the community. It is sometimes difficult to get to downtown offices, and we hope that this meeting will accommodate many neighborhood residents who may be in danger of losing their homes.@
For the past three years, the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant have sponsored the Tax Lien Neighbor-to-Neighbor Outreach Project. Members of this twenty-five-year-old civic group have been visiting each home on the tax lien list and leaving a packet of informational materials. AThis year, we were amazed to see the large number of homes and businesses on the list,@ said Brenda Fryson, president of the Brownstoners. AWe cannot afford to lose our homes and businesses. They are the legacy that our fore-parents worked hard to achieve. When our members go door-to-door, we will be urging our neighbors to attend the April 3rd session, or to make arrangements for payment beforehand. These tax lien assistance meetings have been invaluable in past years, with more than two hundred homes saved from the tax lien process. Just come!@
The New York City Department of Finance makes it clear that the sale of the tax lien does not mean that the property has been sold. If payment, or acceptable payment arrangements, are not made by May 12th, the tax lien will be sold by the City to a third party lien holder. The taxpayer must then pay the entire amount to this private company, including a high interest rate and additional fees. According to Joseph Chambers of the Concord Development Corporation, AThis is the point where people fall into the hands of predatory lenders who use unscrupulous tactics that trap homeowners into ultimately losing their property. Some of these companies have already begun to make telephone calls, and even home visits, and we are urging all taxpayers to beware.@
For customer assistance from the Department of Finance, property owners can call the Ombudsperson=s Office at 1(718) 694-0424. Seniors can call 1(718) 694-8260. Concerns about unpaid water and sewer charges can be directed to the Department of Environmental Protection at 1 (718) 595-7000. Staff in the office of Councilman Albert Vann is also available to handle questions. Call 1 (718) 919-0740.