BROOKLYN — East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant are home to the greatest number of at-risk properties in Brooklyn for the city’s tax lien sale, city figures show.
The neighborhoods have the most properties where owners have outstanding tax, water and sewer debt or other unpaid charges against their property, according to an analysis from the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.
A total of 1,422 buildings were on the city’s 90-day sale list in East New York’s Community District 5, and 1,030 of those properties were one-to-four family homes.
Bed-Stuy followed in second place, with 1,212 properties on the list from Community District 3.
Other Brooklyn neighborhoods with high numbers of at-risk buildings included Flatlands and Canarsie with 1,059 properties, and East Flatbush with 944.
If owners don’t pay, the city’s Department of Finance sells their outstanding debt to a third party each year. A lien sale is not selling the property itself — the lienholder buys the right to collect money previously owed to the city.
However, if the property owner still doesn’t pay the debt, it can result in foreclosure.
During a focus group conducted by the Center, Bridge Street Development Corporation and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the organization found that some Bed-Stuy homeowners face a variety of obstacles.
Such challenges include having older properties that can be expensive to maintain, and properties appreciating at a higher rate than their incomes, according to Matthew Hassett, the Center's director of policy and communications.
In East New York, the high number of properties on the tax lien list could likely be tied to strong speculation prices in the neighborhood, he said.
The city sends at least four notices to tell owners about the debt before the lien is sold. This year’s sale is on May 12, with May 11 slated as the last day to pay or enter into a payment agreement.
Single-family homes and those receiving the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption, the Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption or the State Personal Income Tax Circuit-Breaker Tax Credit are exempt from the lien sale, and military personnel on active duty can also qualify for exemption.
For those on the list, the city hosts outreach events throughout the boroughs to provide one-on-one assistance.
“Getting into a payment plan is the way to go to save a ton of money, there’s no reason to pay interest and fees,” Hassett said.
Lien servicing companies, on behalf of the buyer, can add more fees and interest to the debt, according to the DOF.
Individuals can reach out to the Center's hotline for assistance or get connected to local organizations for free resources.
In Bed-Stuy, Bridge Street Development Corporation participates in community events to offer services and also sends out mass mailings to property owners on the city’s tax lien list.
The organization provides homeownership and foreclosure counseling free of charge, as well as financial literacy and budgeting information.
“The challenge on a daily basis is that people may be embarrassed to go out there to these workshops and events,” said Patricio Hernandez, community outreach coordinator at Bridge Street.
“My advice for people having hardships is that there’s plenty of help. Forget about the embarrassment, this is your life savings and the saving of your home.”
Other local groups like the Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant will go door-to-door in the neighborhood starting on April 1 to let people know if they’re on the city’s list.
City agencies will also host an informational event on April 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Restoration Plaza, 1360 Fulton St.
To see whether your property is at risk, check out the Department of Finance listing.