Lien Sale Help Night to Aid Homeowners Behind on Property Tax and Water Bills
By Stephen Witt
About 700 Bedford-Stuyvesant homeowners facing a lien on their property due to being behind on property taxes and/or water bills might be eligible for tax reductions, flexible payment schedules or even a reprieve on these bills thanks to a community volunteer effort known as the “Know the Facts, Don’t Lose Your Home” collective.
The ad hoc organization will pound the pavements and start knocking on homeowner’s doors this month leading up to the 2014 Lien Sale Help Night slated for 5-8 p.m., Wednesday, May 7 at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
“This is extremely important and one of our major initiatives to get information out to homeowners that their name is on the tax lien list,” said Lynette Rogers, president of the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the key organizations that started the Lien Sale Help Night along with former Assemblyman and City Councilman Al Vann 13 years ago.
Rogers said that the Brownstoners will team with members of other organizations such as Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Bridge Street Development Corporation, Brooklyn Community Board 3, Neighborhood Housing Services of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, Pratt Area Community Council and the Coalition for the Improvement of Bedford-Stuyvesant to put packets together and get the word out.
Among the items in the packets the coalition will give to homeowners as they knock on their door is a list of the many ways to avoid a lien sale of their property whether the lien is due to unpaid property taxes, water/sewer costs or HPD charges. This includes paying down your debt, enter into a no-money-down, 10-year payment plan or apply for an exemption.
Among those eligible for exemptions include senior citizens, disabled homeowners, clergy and members of the military. Also included in the packet is a checklist to determine eligibility for exemptions to these bills.
Homeowners facing a lien are also encouraged to visit the Department of Finance’s Business Center to work with a staff person to get off the list. The center is located in the Brooklyn Municipal Building at 210 Joralemon Street between Adams and Court Streets.
“We really hope homeowners come out so they don’t have to lose their home,” said Rogers.
Slated to attend the May 7 event to help homeowners facing crushing property tax and water bills will be representatives from the city’s Finance Department, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who handle water bills and different nonprofit legal services.
Rogers said the target homeowners have between 1 and 3 units in their home and reside in School District 16. Over the past 13 years, the organizations has helped about 900 homeowners avoid tax lien sales.
“Across the country, lien sale systems without public protections take advantage of poor homeowners,” said newly elected City Councilman Robert Cornegy. “Thanks in great part to the vigilance and leadership of former Council member Albert Vann, New York City’s system has significant public interest protections and community residents are highly engaged in helping one another
protect their properties. I encourage everyone with an interest in a property on the lien sale list to attend the outreach session at Restoration Plaza on Wednesday, May 7th to explore the many options for avoiding this year’s sale.”