How to predate on the most vulnerable Americans? Confiscate their homes for failing to pay tax bills on time, even if those bills are only a few hundred dollars, and even in cases where any compassionate person could logically argue for extenuating circumstances.
…under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found….
Coleman, struggling with dementia, was among those who lost a home. His debt had snowballed to $4,999 — 37 times the original tax bill [of $134]. Not only did he lose his $197,000 house, but he also was stripped of the equity….
“This is destroying lives,” said Christopher Leinberger, a distinguished scholar and research professor of urban real estate at George Washington University….
A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her family home to a Maryland investor over a tax debt of $44.79 while she was struggling with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home.
The investigative reporting reveals minorities and the elderly are among the most affected by this. To top it off, some of the investors and their lawyers didn’t exactly act in good faith (emphasis added): “[a major investor] whose lawyers were investigated and disbarred as a result of Maryland’s criminal bid-rigging case.“