This past spring the Giuliani Administration acknowledged publicly what many housing observers had already concluded – that the city had stopped “vesting” properties that are delinquent on their taxes. That acknowledgment committed the Administration to revamping the city’s approach to property tax enforcement and, in effect, toward housing that is in danger of abandonment. Following months of internal debate, on October 31 the Administration unveiled its strategy for redirecting the city’s tax enforcement and housing abandonment policies.
Through the reinstitution of tax lien sales the Administration proposes to rely on private-sector mechanisms to enforce tax collections. In what represents a significant achievement for housing and community development advocates within the Administration, however, most housing will be diverted from the sales process into a more comprehensive program for addressing its financial problems. Many observers feared that all low-income housing would be subject to tax lien sales, in effect reinstituting the “revolving door” building auctions that were ceased in 1977.
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