Abolish the NYC Tax Lien Sale Coalition

The Abolish the Tax Lien Sale coalition meetings are every Monday at 4pm. Join us! For more information, contact Elise at elise@neweconomynyc.org.

Who We Are:

NYCCLI is a founding member of the Abolish the NYC Tax Lien Sale Coalition. With citywide allies, we are calling on the City of New York to abolish the predatory tax lien sale and develop an alternative system of tax collection and property disposition that promotes neighborhood stability and equity, through community land trusts (CLTs) and other strategies. Read more in NYCCLI’s joint report, Commodifying Our Communities here.

The Abolish the NYC Tax Lien Sale Coalition includes community land trusts, non-profit developers and housing advocacy and policy organizations (see full list below). In 2020, we successfully organized to: 1) limit the reauthorization of the Tax Lien Sale to just one year, 2021, 2) substantially reduce the number of properties eligible for the lien sale; 3) secure public funding for outreach and education to those affected by the lien sale; and 4) create a task force of community stakeholders to formulate alternative methods of addressing delinquent property taxes and City service fees. Because the current authorization for the lien sale ends this year, the City Council and the Mayor have to have created an alternative by 2022.

Background:

Since 1996, the City has outsourced a critical municipal function to the detriment of communities and the benefit of Wall Street investors. Through the lien sale, NYC sells property tax and other municipal debts in bulk to an investor-backed trust. The trust tacks on high interest rates and fees, pushing financially-strapped property owners into further distress. When a property owner fails to meet this ever more onerous financial burden, the trust can foreclose on the property, divesting the owner of their equity and transferring the property to the highest bidder, frequently a real estate developer and speculator.

From its inception, the Tax Lien Sale has negatively and disproportionately affected communities of color by allowing investors (and the already well-off) to benefit from the financial struggles of homeowners and small property owners in these communities.

The sale likewise harms tenants and communities when the City transfers its leverage over delinquent landlords of multifamily buildings to the investment trust, which has no interest in maintaining safe housing or planning for a future in our neighborhoods that includes permanently affordable housing. Further, each year, the city lets millions of unused square feet of residential zoning slip away as it sells liens on hundreds of buildable vacant lots instead of channeling them to community land trusts and other mission-driven developers for production of affordable housing.

Click here for video from our recent educational briefing, and here for slides from the presentation. To learn more about how Community Land Trusts can serve as a strategy for the disposition of tax-delinquent properties, click here.

Selected Press:

City Limits: As NYC Considers Scrapping Tax Lien Sale, Land Trust Plan Gains Steam, March 1, 2022

Harlem World: Activists And Electeds Cheer End Of The Rudy Giuliani Created NYC Tax Lien Sale, March 1, 2022

The Baffler:Lien on Me, February 10, 2022

Brooklyn Paper: ‘East New York is Not For Sale’: Community Land Trust Movement Sees Hope in Racial Justice Commission, November 10, 2021

NYCCLI Member blog: Public Land in Public Hands: Community Land Trusts Demand Control of City Land, September 28, 2021

Kings County Politics: Tax Lien Sale Bill Asks for Reform Taskforce, February 3, 2021

Press Release: NYC Council Lays Groundwork to Abolish Guiliani-Era Lien Sale, February 2, 2021

Politico: Council Rankles de Blasio Administration After Pulling Tax Lien Bill, December 20, 2020

City Limits, Opinion: It’s Time to Do Away With NYC’s Tax Lien Sale—The Giuliani Plan That Won’t Die, December 9, 2020

The City: Council Poised to Renew Controversial Tax Lien Sales Program, With Tweaks to Protect Pandemic-Pummeled Homeowners, December 8, 2020

NY Daily News: End Tax Lien Sales for Good, November 4, 2020

Bklyner: Activists And Lawmakers Call To Abolish City’s Tax Lien Sale, October 14, 2020

Abolish the Lien Sale Coalition Members (list in formation):

Bronx CLT
Brooklyn Level Up
The Coalition For Community Advancement
Community Service Society of New York
East New York CLT (coalition coordinators)
New Economy Project
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
NYC Community Land Initiative
TakeRoot Justice
Western Queens CLT