Delinquent Water Bills Are a New Threat to Foreclosures, Warns Legal Aid
THURSDAY, MAY 06, 2010

Judith Goldiner, Supervising Attorney for the Civil Practice's Civil Reform Unit, warned the City Council that despite the fact that New York City is in the midst of a tidal wave of home foreclosures, the City is poised to conduct its yearly sale of tax liens to a trust which further exacerbates this crisis by putting several thousand low income and elderly homeowners at risk of losing their home.

Based on the 10-day notice list, the anticipated tax lien sale will affect over 9000 New Yorkers who own homes with one-to three units (Class 1 properties) alone. Of these over 7000 liens are being sold based solely on arrears for water and sewer charges. While the sale of liens based on unpaid property taxes require arrears of three years, water liens can be sold based on arrears of only one year. The sale of so-called 'stand-alone' water liens was authorized by local law in 2007, presumably to lower tax delinquencies. However, this policy has had a deleterious effect on low income homeowners who may stand to lose their home for arrears of as little as $1000. Moreover, sales based on such stand-alone water liens disproportionately affect communities of colors which are already devastated by the overall foreclosure crisis. The harsh effects of the overbroad application of the tax lien process are particularly felt by low-income senior citizens.

Ms. Goldiner told City Limits that we have many stories of people who are losing their homes. Read the full testimony and the City Limits article.