This article was originally published in the Spring 2014 MIE Journal under the title “Saving Homes from Real Property Tax Foreclosure: Direct Services, Systemic Advocacy and the Power of the Press” and is reprinted with permission.
For older homeowners, the home is likely to be their largest asset, and the forfeiture of the home can mean the loss of economic security. See Andrew Kochera, AARP Public Policy Institute, State Housing Profiles at 2 (2006), available at http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/d18637_housing.pdf. Between 1990 and 2004, property tax rates rose at more than twice the rate of inflation. Id. at 7. If a senior falls behind on the mortgage, she may still be able to recover the balance of her equity in a foreclosure sale. But in the District of Columbia, as in many jurisdictions, a homeowner falling behind in property taxes stands to lose not only the title to the property, but also all accumulated equity.