Black district in Kansas hit hard on property tax sale

Rosetta Dotson did two jobs, scraping money to pay off his delinquent tax debt in Kansas City, Kansas, which he and his husband Ricky own. Then a pandemic broke out, she lost her second job, and Ricky became infected with COVID-19.

The black homeowner continued to pay as much tax as he could while waiting to talk to the judge about the new payment agreement. Then she learned that her home was auctioned online.

“We felt like a scam as they were trying to rob us of our property. My husband, my husband, we live mainly in black neighborhoods and they can cause He said he felt like we were targeted because we were doing everything. We will lose our home. “

Dotsons is one of the people who lived in the historically black area of ​​Kansas City, Kansas, and racists and government officials praise the revitalization of the community for delinquent property taxes. When the sale resumes, there is a risk of losing a home in the pandemic.

“It’s the reverse red lining that is racist. I don’t use that word much, but that’s the only thing: I live in a particular area, or I have a foothold in a particular area. It is classicalism and racism that socially and economically robs the people who built it. In Wyandot County. ” Senator David Haley, a black Democrat who tried to help some residents of his hometown maintain their homes, said.

Officials from the unified government of Wyandot County and Kansas City, Kansas have admitted that delinquent parcels for sale are primarily in black neighborhoods. With a population of 165,000, about 23% black, 30% Latin, and 40% white, the county typically has 2,200 properties a year with three tax auctions, far more than any other large county in Kansas. For sale.

Wyandot County says it will auction residential real estate when taxes are three years behind, as the law allows. It states that the goal is to put the property in a “responsible hand” to improve the appearance of the neighborhood.

Many properties are not sold at auction and the county acquires them through the Wyandot County Land Bank. The Land Bank of Wyandot County currently owns approximately 3,500 properties, almost all of which have been acquired by foreclosure.

Local Economic Development Director Catherine Carter said the county decided to tackle property taxes that were delinquent about three years ago more aggressively and use more land banks as a way to rebuild its neighborhood. It was. At last year’s virtual conference, she advertised her success, showing slides featuring the now refurbished homes, and recognizing the program’s achievements in raising asset value and the county’s tax base.

Critics say Wyandotte County has disproportionately high tax delinquency sales compared to other parts of the state, and its efforts have struggled in communities that have faced discrimination for generations. Is said to rob the inhabitants.

Wyandot County, where 21% of its residents are in poverty, has an entire real estate block seized for future redevelopment. Exiled real estate owners will not be compensated, Haley said.

Carttar says most of the Land Bank’s assets have been abandoned for a long time. For future online delinquency tax sales, 43% of properties will be listed as vacant.

This practice goes against the national background of the wealth gap between white and black households. Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ inequality and public interest program, a progressive research group, said “the first step in a wealth-building ladder” is home ownership.

According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 72% of white Americans owned their own homes in 2017, compared to just over 42% of black families.

“Here we are in the middle of a pandemic where the racial influences of the pandemic were not equal. It was disproportionately burdened by black and brown people, and when the various moratoriums were lifted, evictions and foreclosures from the pandemic. There is a great risk that it will occur, “says Collins. “So it may be time to not pursue aggressive tax sales.”

Two Black County Commissioners representing the region that had been hit hard by sales did not respond to an interview request from the Associated Press.

In the case of Dotsons, Haley noticed and warned that their home was on the auction list. According to Rosetta Dotson, they started paying $ 2,300 in late tax on the day of sale, but were told it was too late.

They eventually regained their home — by paying taxes and statutory costs to the lawyer of the real estate company that bought it. The total was $ 5,200.

Haley has succeeded in warning another black resident, Karen Pitchford Knox, that the house she grew up in was auctioned in January this year. When Pitchford-Knox’s mother died in 2016, she inherited a home and over $ 5,000 in delinquent property taxes. She lags behind payment plans after losing her job during a pandemic.

Pitchford-Knox, as she said, took about two weeks to “ask, borrow, and steal from Peter and Paul” as a tax of $ 1,000.

“I definitely feel they are targeting black homes,” she said, saying she knew three other black women whose homes were on the auction list. “I feel like a black female homeowner or a black senior.”

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