Two days before the Dec. 17 citywide property tax lien sale, Councilmember Robert Cornegy (D-Brooklyn) today advocated for a delay on the process that may send many to foreclosure.
Those with overdue property taxes have been put in line for their debts to be sold into a trust, where they will likely pay more than they originally owed. Cornegy says 65% of those in line consist of one-to-four-family homes, co-ops and condominiums that are located in communities he represents, in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
As PoliticsNY reported Oct. 27, a group of 19 city lawmakers supports the delay. Currently, property owners can submit a COVID-19 hardship declaration to try and remove their property from the lien sale. This is exclusive to individuals who own buildings with 10 or fewer residential units and have experienced a COVID-related hardship. Besides a severe loss of income during the pandemic, the owner may qualify if one or more of their tenants were unable to pay rent in full since March 1, 2020.
Cornegy met with some of his supporters in City Hall Park to draw more attention to his cause as the days wind down. “The City Department of Finance’s listing of 2021 tax-lien sale designated properties makes it resoundingly clear that owners in areas in my district are to disproportionately be subjected to this onerous tax collection effort for the sake of recouping less than $100 million,” he said in his remarks.
“In the interest of the racial justice that your administration has sought to advance in its waning days, we insist that you delay the 2021 tax-lien sale to ensure the public health, safety and general welfare of these beleaguered New Yorkers at a time when our communities of color continue to be vulnerable to the worst effects of this pandemic,” Cornegy continued.
He was also joined by Councilmembers Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Queens), and Darma Diaz (D-Brooklyn). Later, Attorney General Letitia James sent out a statement in support of the cause.
“New Yorkers must be given the chance to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic without the looming threat of being removed from their homes,” said James.
“The tax lien sale has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and will only exacerbate the financial hardships so many are already facing in the middle of a pandemic. Now is the time to support hardworking homeowners, not saddle them with undue financial burden,” she added.
The de Blasio administration did not return inquires for a response at post time