Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Washington Post To D.C. City Council: You Did Wrong! Now Do Right & Quit Fighting Class Action Lawsuit & Compensate Ex-Homeowners Who Got Screwed Out Of Their Home Equity By Your Abusive Tax Lien System

From an editorial in The Washington Post:
  • D.C. OFFICIALS wasted no time in reforming the city’s tax collection system in the wake of an exposé detailing abuses that resulted in people losing their homes. Clearly, they knew they were in the wrong — and yet they still refuse to compensate the people they victimized. Instead of spending taxpayer dollars on a court fight, city officials should explore ways to settle the claims of vulnerable residents who were taken advantage of by an unfair system.

    An investigation by Post reporters in 2013 revealed that the city’s tax lien system for collecting delinquent taxes resulted in disastrous consequences for residents vulnerable because of their age or mental capacity. Residents who owed even small sums in property taxes lost their homes altogether through foreclosure by private investors who had purchased property liens imposed by the city. Among those featured was Benjamin Coleman, a 76-year-old retired Marine sergeant who suffered from dementia and was turned out of his home after he neglected to pay a $133.88 property- tax bill.

    After the Post series, the D.C. Council put safeguards in place , but they are no help to Mr. Coleman. He lost his home and all the equity he had poured into it to a private investor who resold it for a big profit; Mr. Coleman now lives in a group home.

    A class-action lawsuit seeking redress for him and about 30 similarly affected residents has been filed in U.S. district court. The D.C. attorney general’s office is vigorously fighting the suit, arguing unsuccessfully for summary dismissal. The District contends that the constitutional bar against unlawful taking doesn’t apply in the lien cases because home equity is not really property, and these residents forfeited their rights when they failed to pay taxes.

    “Doubling down on the dispossessed” was the apt characterization of this position in a recent essay in The Post’s Local Opinions section. A spokesman for D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine stressed that his office’s job is to protect the interests of the city, which could be on the hook for millions of dollars if the unfortunate former homeowners prevail. But surely it’s also his job to do the right thing. We urge Mr. Racine to reassess decisions about this suit and consult with the mayor and D.C. Council about how to compensate these residents for their losses.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home