(BALTIMORE – May 3, 2021) — Affirming his commitment to protecting homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Mayor Brandon M. Scott is announcing the removal of all first-time owner-occupied tax sale liens from going to the upcoming tax sale and additional resources for at-risk homeowners. Today’s announcement marks a first step in the Scott administration’s strategy for addressing owner-occupied property liens in the tax sale.
In the 2021 State of the City address, Mayor Scott announced that he had directed the Department of Finance “to use every tool and resource available … to make sure no one loses their home to tax sale in the midst of this pandemic.” Keeping that promise, the Mayor has directed the City Administrator and Finance Director to take necessary action to protect Baltimore’s most vulnerable legacy homeowners prior to this year’s sale on May 17, 2021.
“Today’s announcement is about being targeted and strategic in our approach to protect our legacy homeowners and center equity,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This is about taking the action we can take now, not simply kicking the can down the road, and working to address the underlying issues in this process to keep our most vulnerable residents housed.”
The City will closely monitor the 2021 tax sale and take action to support homeowners during and immediately following this year’s sale. The Finance Department will be dedicating three full-time employees to individually assist homeowners.
Beginning today, residents experiencing issues related to the tax sale may call 410-396-3556 to be connected with a member of the Bureau of Revenue Collections who is familiar with the tax sale process. Residents who are waiting for their payment to post, who are appealing any bill, and who are unsure about whether they qualify for additional support should call that number for support.
The Mayor and his administration will also pursue local and state policy changes that would give the City more local control over the tax sale process.
“From my time as a delegate in Annapolis to the Council’s legislative package to address housing security, I’ve been steadfast in my commitment to shield homeowners from the city’s tax sale and help them build generational wealth as a means of strengthening our communities,” Council President Nick J. Mosby said. “The mayor’s important preemptive action will protect some of our most vulnerable families from the threat of losing their homes amid this devastating pandemic. Often a person’s most significant financial investment, a home stabilizes our families and entire communities. We need to build on the mayor’s action with long-term solutions that focus on equity. Together with the mayor and the Council, our residents have our collective commitment to seek policy solutions that improve their lives.”
“We must continue to do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable homeowners, including our seniors, low-income families, and people with disabilities,” said Councilwoman Danielle McCray (District 2). “I thank the Mayor for taking this important first step to keeping Baltimore homeowners safe during this pandemic.”
The Mayor’s announcement precedes the implementation of legislation that would add protections for homeowners in the context of the tax sale. A local ordinance passed by Councilwoman Danielle McCray, which goes into effect July 1, 2021, would withhold owner-occupied liens from the tax sale for older adults, people receiving federal disability benefits, and households with a combined income less than $40,000.
“I am excited that Mayor Scott and the Administration has dedicated so much time to ensure homeowners avoid this year’s tax sale. The efforts of advocates, volunteers and my office to help people get out of tax sale have been heroic,” said Councilwoman Odette Ramos (District 14). “This is a first step, and I am grateful the administration is taking this seriously enough to come up with a solution. The next step is to get to every homeowner this year, and put through reforms of the entire system to repair administrative hurdles and eliminate this predatory tax sale system.”