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TOWN FILES FORECLOSURE ON 72 PROPERTIES IN NY STATE SUPREME COURT---DOWN FROM 370
Release Date: March 07, 2016

 
Last week the town filed a  Motion for Judgment of Foreclosure in State Supreme Court to foreclose on 72 properties.  The final list is for 72 parcels representing approximately $7.1 million of delinquent taxes (including interest and penalties) of which 16 (including 2 demolished) are classified as family residences.  We are now waiting for a Judge to sign the papers. The town will than have ownership rights to these properties and will sell or auction off the properties.
 
When Receiver of Taxes Anne Povella and  Michael Pflaum, special counsel in the office of the Town Attorney began the process in December 2013, the delinquent tax list for 2010 and prior tax liens consisted of 370 parcels representing approximately $19.9 million of delinquent taxes (including interest and penalties at such time).  Thus to date, we have reduced the list of delinquent tax liens by 298 parcels representing almost $13 million.  By April 29, 2014, when the List of Delinquent Taxes was filed, the number of parcels was reduced to 222 representing approximately $13.0 million.  For the most part, the $6.9 million reduction was the result of full payment or entering into a tax agreement (that required current taxes to be paid as well as a deposit for the remainder).  An additional 94 parcels representing approximately $4.5 million were removed from the list prior to the filing of the Petition and Notice of Foreclosure on July 1, 2015.  Since the filing of the Petition and Notice of Foreclosure, an additional 56 parcels representing approximately $4.7 million have been withdrawn from the list resulting in the current list as described above.
 
It is important to note that removing a parcel from the list was not subject to our arbitrary discretion.  Removal required compliance with Section 1138 of the Real Property Tax Law.  Thus, either the tax liens were redeemed in full, the tax liens were subject to a tax agreement, the owner of the parcel had filed for bankruptcy or collecting the tax lien was subject to a legal impediment.  Examples of a legal impediment include parcels subject to other legal disputes (that ultimately will result in a sale whereby the Town will collect in full) or a parcel that will cost the Town more to own than the taxes due.  Also included in this category are parcels subject to a valid sales contract that has yet to close.  There are six remaining parcels that we expect to collect over $.9 million at closing.
 
This is the first in rem (foreclosure process) that the town has taken in many years. We have decided to do this annually in the future. By not waiting – it will be easier for residents to come up with the dollars that they owe, work out payment plans and avoid foreclosure. I feel that we have done everything possible to help property owners avoid foreclosure. At least seven letters were sent to everyone who owes back taxes (read letters below). I devoted many hours – meeting with residents who contacted me, connecting them with non profits and others that were willing to be of assistance to them. Some people sold their property to avoid foreclosure. Others worked out payment agreements with the town or obtained reverse mortgages. The Receiver of Taxes and Town Attorney’s office also had numerous meetings with property owners—and was successful in reducing the list of property owners on the foreclosure list.  To encourage payments of back taxes the Town Board even enacted an amnesty on interest in 2013.
Paul Feiner
 
 

THIS WAS ALSO SENT TO ALL TAXPAYERS WHO OWED MONEY TO TOWN
Hello Paul,
WRO is designated to accept applications for the Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP).  This soft loan can pay up to $40k to homeowners facing foreclosure in delinquent taxes, or mortgage payments for reinstatement of the mortgage or maintenance fees arrears.     For more information go to https://application.nysmap.org for more information.  We encourage the homeowners to complete our application, copy financial documents and make an appointment to go over these items before completing the application.  Feel free to have homeowners call us to answer any questions.  The application process takes 45 days so they must act fast!
Thank you,
Veronica Raphael
Director of Foreclosure Prevention
Financial Education Trainer
470 Mamaroneck Ave Ste 410
White Plains, NY 10605
914-428-4507 x334   914-428-9455 Fax
 
LETTER #1   
August 5, 2013
 

 
Dear 
 
The Receiver of Taxes and Town Attorney have advised me that you owe some back taxes. I know that this is a stressful time for you and your family. I would like to be of help.  There are some organizations that you should reach out to that can be of assistance.  Westchester Residential Opportunities (telephone: 428-4507) has great services. There is also a group called Community Housing Innovations (683-1010). They provide foreclosure prevention assistance. There is another organization that you may wish to contact: Community Capital Resources (747 8020). This entity provides budget and credit card counseling.  I hope that the above information is helpful to you and your family. I am always available to speak with you, if you feel that would be helpful.  The Town Attorney’s office, working with the Receiver of Taxes office, is able to work out payment plans for back taxes.
 
There is another benefit that you might be eligible for if you are a veteran and are on a fixed income.  Please read the enclosed article.  Also, if you are on a fixed income Con Ed offers homeowners and tenants who receive social security benefits such as HEAP, food stamps, public assistance low income rates. You should visit the Con Ed website: www.coned.com/customers central and www.coned.com/greenteam for more information.  These websites provide residents with more information.  If you don’t have a computer and think you are eligible but don’t know how to get the application – please feel free to contact me directly.  I will try to help.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 
PJF:ca
 
LETTER 2
September 26, 2013
 

TAX INTEREST AMNESTY PROGRAM ANNOUNCED
FOR THOSE WHO OWE BACK TAXES
 

Dear Taxpayer,
 
$21.8 million is owed to the town in back taxes by businesses and property owners.  As a result, foreclosure proceedings will begin soon. To help those residents who are facing difficulties meeting their tax obligations, the Town Board approved the resolution on the back of this letter on September 25, 2013 authorizing a tax interest amnesty if back taxes are paid in full by December 30, 2013.  This will help reduce the arrears owed to the town by those in arrears since the interest is at a 12% rate.  If you have multiple properties, taxes for all properties must be paid to qualify for this amnesty program.
 
There are some organizations that you should reach out to that can be of assistance.  Westchester Residential Opportunities (telephone: 428-4507) and Housing Action Council (332-4144) have great services. There is also a group called Community Housing Innovations (683-1010). They provide foreclosure prevention assistance.
 
The Receiver of Taxes is Anne Povella.  Her office can respond to questions you may have about arrears owed to the town.  Her telephone number is 993-1512.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 
Cc: Greenburgh Town Council
Tim Lewis, Town Attorney
Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes
 
 
TB-2 – 09/25/13
 
RESOLUTION OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF GREENBURGH
ESTABLISHING A TAX INTEREST AMNESTY PROGRAM FOR QUALIFIED TOWN PROPERTY OWNERS, OFFERING A 100% ABATEMENT OF INTEREST THAT HAS ACCRUED SINCE THE PROPERTY TAX WENT TO LIEN, PROVIDED ALL PROPERTY TAX LIENS ARE CLEARED AND ALL PROPERTY TAXES ARE PAID IN FULL BY THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON DECEMBER 30, 2013
 
WHEREAS, there are currently a significant number of Town tax liens outstanding which could
result in foreclosure proceedings to collect the outstanding debt; however, the Town Board desires to give
owners of real property situated within the Town with such liens an opportunity to avoid impending
foreclosure proceedings by granting such owners a one-time incentive to pay off their property tax liens;
and
 
WHEREAS, the Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive proposed by the Town Board consists
of 100% abatement of interest that accrued on the tax liens subsequent to the date that the property tax
went to lien; and
 
WHEREAS, the Town is desirous of offering a qualified Town property owner the Tax Interest
Amnesty Program Incentive, provided the property owner clears all outstanding real property tax liens
and pays in full all outstanding property taxes no later than the close of business on December 30, 2013;
and
 
WHEREAS, pursuant to 1182 of the New York State Real Property Tax Law, the Town Board, as
the governing body of Town, may authorize the Town’s Receiver of Taxes to permit cancellation, in
whole or in part, of any interest, penalties or other charges to which the Town would be entitled to, if the
Town Board determines that such cancellation is in the best interest of the Town; and
 
WHEREAS, the Town Board finds that such cancellation of interest subsequent to the date that
the tax went to lien, pursuant to the proposed Tax Interest Amnesty Program, is in the best interests of the
Town; and
 
WHEREAS, the Town’s offer of the Tax Interest Amnesty Program , referred to above, is a onetime
offer, which terminates as of the close of business on December 30, 2013 and does not apply to any
tax payments received prior to the initiation of the Tax Interest Amnesty program;
 
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board of the Town of Greenburgh
hereby establishes a Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive for qualified Town property owners,
offering an opportunity for property owners to clear outstanding property tax liens in exchange for a
100% abatement of interest that accrued subsequent to the date that the tax went to lien, provided all
outstanding real property tax liens are cleared and all outstanding property taxes are paid in full by the
close of business on December 30, 2013; and
 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Tax Interest Amnesty Program Incentive, referred to above,
is applicable to interest on taxes that went to lien post-January 1, 1995, and is a one-time offer,
commencing September 26, 2013, and terminating at the close of business on December 30, 2013, and
does not apply to any tax payments received prior to September 26, 2013.
 
LETTER 3
May 28, 2014
 

Dear Neighbor:
 
This letter is being written because I’m nervous about the foreclosure process that is about to take place. As you may know, the town is proceeding with plans to foreclose on properties that owe taxes. Foreclosure will take place within months, however there is still time to avoid worst case scenarios. I personally know many of the people who are in danger of having their properties foreclosed and I am stressed out. Many of the people who owe back taxes are decent people, like you, who are experiencing hard times. My goal is to help you get past this stressful time.
 
Under the law when a foreclosure takes place the local government gets the property. If a house is worth $500,000 and the taxpayer owes the town $100,000 the taxpayer loses the entire equity in the house - all $500,000. However, if you are able to sign a tax agreement and pay the back taxes in installments over a two year period you don’t lose everything. You only pay what you owe. Selling your home or obtaining a reverse mortgage is preferable to letting the government take your property.
 
There is an organization called Westchester Residential Opportunities. They have helped people just like you.  They have received a grant from Westchester County, the United States government and private funders to help people who owe taxes avoid losing the entire equity in their home. They have helped Westchester residents retain the equity in their homes or transition to new housing if the home is no longer affordable.
 
I spoke with Jane Lindau earlier this week. She told me that she does not charge a fee for her service.  She would love to help you. Jane’s phone number is 428-4507 ext. 313.  I hope that you will take advantage of her offer to help.  Our goal: for you to get back on your feet, and to make the best possible decisions.  Thanks so much for being proactive and making smart choices for your families.
 
Sincerely,
 

Paul J. Feiner, Town Supervisor
 
WRO IS A HUD CERTIFIED NOT-FOR-PROFIT HOUSING COUNSELING AGENCY
 
Jane Lindau
DIRECTOR OF SENIOR HOUSING
HECM Counselor, Foreclosure Counselor
Westchester Residential Opportunities
470 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 410
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel 914 428-4507 ext. 313
Fax 914 428-9455   Hours: Monday through Friday 8am - 4pm
 
 
LETTER 4
June 26, 2014
 

 
Dear Neighbor,
 
Thought you might be interested in our July 15th workshop for those who are behind in paying taxes.  Jane Lindau and Westchester Residential Opportunities received a grant to help people avoid foreclosures.
 
Unfortunately, the town is required to collect taxes owed to us.  NYS law states that when a town forecloses, the town takes ownership of the property.  For example, if a taxpayer owes the town $80,000 and their property is worth $1,000,000 and we foreclose on the property, the person who owes us the back taxes not only loses the $80,000 but loses the entire value of the property.
 
That's why I keep writing to you.  I don't want the town to get a windfall. The entire Town Board and I want you to pay your obligations to the town and not lose everything.  Jane Lindau might be able to help you in giving advice or assisting you during these difficult times.
 
It's possible that properties that are going to be foreclosed will be turned over to the town by the end of the year.  So - there is still a little time left.
 
Thanks for taking action steps to avoid the foreclosure.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 
PJF:ca
Encl
 
 
LETTER 5
July 28, 2014
 

Dear Property Owner,
 
I'm sorry if these letters to property owners who face foreclosure are stressing you out. But, our intentions are good: We don't want you to lose all the value of your property.
 
Under New York State law, once a property is foreclosed by a municipality the local government gets to keep 100% of the property values.  If a taxpayer’s house is worth $500,000 (for example) and the taxpayer owes $90,000 in back taxes the town gets to keep the $500,000. And - after the Judge turns over the property to the town, the former owner gets NOTHING.
 
During  the month of August the town will be taking the next steps that will lead to foreclosure.  The Town Attorney's office has advised that names and addresses of people who owe taxes will have to be published in the newspapers - a provision required by state law. It's possible that a Judge could turn over the properties on the foreclosure list to the town in late November, although it's likely that it could take a little (but not much) longer.
 
Since my last letter was sent out a number of people have worked out payment agreements with the Receiver of Taxes office.  Others have reached out to family members asking for help, or have contacted real estate brokers, putting their homes up for sale.  Westchester Residential Opportunities could also be contacted for assistance. Jane Lindau can be reached at 914-428-4507 ext. 313.
 
I understand that you are facing a problem--owing back taxes to the town. I also understand how stressful this is for you and your family. I'm hopeful that you'll be proactive now while there is still time so you won't lose all your equity.  
 
I am more than willing to meet with you personally and want to be of help. I'm stressed out because I want you to come out of this with the best scenario possible.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 
LETTER 6
November 7, 2014
 

3/3/2016
Dear Neighbor:  
 
As you know, the town is obligated to pursue foreclosure proceedings against those who haven’t paid their back taxes.  We’ve written letters to you and others in the past suggesting that you work out a payment plan with the town to avoid foreclosure, contact a non-profit organization (like Westchester Residential Opportunities) which has helped many take action steps to avoid foreclosure. Or, to sell your home.
 
The problem with foreclosure: once the town forecloses on a house you lose everything, the entire house.  If a person owes the town $200,000 in back taxes and if the house is worth $400,000 the town gets the house.  That is the law of the State of New York.  So, it makes sense for those in danger of foreclosure to do everything you can to avoid foreclosure.  You can lose everything!  Even more than you owe.
 
The town is obligated to pursue foreclosure proceedings and move forward.  However, many people on the list have been paying up or working out tax agreements and are being taken off the list of people in danger of foreclosure.  The Town Attorney’s office has agreed to hold off the actually filing of the papers until the end of the year – giving you a little extra time to avoid losing your property.
 
I continue to be willing to meet with you and town staff to discuss action steps you could take to avoid foreclosure.  Feel free to call me anytime.  The town is required by law to collect back taxes.  We cannot cancel the foreclosure process.  We want to work with you.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 

LETTER 7
 
May 21, 2015
 
WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO LOSE YOUR PROPERTY
TOWN INITIATING FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS TO COLLECT BACK TAXES
 
Dear Neighbor:
 
During the past year and a half I have written you a number of letters advising that the town is owed significant back taxes by some residents. We’ve offered to help you reach out to organizations that could provide you with advice so you could avoid losing your assets.  Many people have taken advantage of our offer. They have sold their property or worked out payment agreements.
 
The town is required by law to collect the back taxes and will be filing a notice and petition with the courts within the next two weeks.  I’m writing you this note because you may still have some time to avoid losing everything. Once the town forecloses on a property the property owner loses the entire house or property.  For example, if you owe $50,000 and the house is worth $500,000 - the town gets to keep the entire house and you get nothing.
 
As a result, it makes sense to sell the property or obtain other financing before the town acquires it. Three months following the town’s filing of the notice and petition a Judge will have the ability to take action – turning over the property to the town. There is still about three months left before your property could be taken away.
 
Please contact Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes at 989-1550 to discuss. I am also more than happy to help you reach out to nonprofit organizations that might be able to help you avoid the worst case scenario.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Paul J. Feiner
Town Supervisor
 
Cc: Town Council Members
Tim Lewis, Town Attorney
Michael Pflaum, Attorney
Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes



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