LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is “shocked and outraged” by a Washington Post report that says a city program makes it possible for District homeowners to lose their properties over matters of just a few hundred dollars.
The report, published Sunday, explains that the Office of Tax and Revenue holds annual tax lien sales. At the sales, third parties can purchase liens that the city has placed on properties for which tax bills have not been paid. The lien purchasers can then collect the debt the homeowners owe, plus interest.
But many D.C. residents, some of whom owed less than $500 in taxes when their liens were originally purchased, have ended up being foreclosed on when their debts swelled to unmanageable amounts, The Post reports.
Gray “is calling for an immediate moratorium on OCFO’s [Office of the Chief Financial Officer] sales of liens and foreclosures, and will transmit emergency legislation addressing the situation to the Council for them to consider when they come back from recess,” city spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said in a statement. “The legislation will put in place needed protections for homeowners – and particularly seniors, who appear to have been the group most frequently affected by this practice.”
The Post report says an elderly veteran struggling with dementia, a flower shop owner dying of cancer in a hospice and a 95-year-old Alzheimer’s patient living in a nursing home are among the people who have lost their homes due to the lien sale program.