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How Did We Let This Happen?

A woman called, saying that she had been referred by a relative. She had been unable to pay the January and May installments of her real estate taxes, and now she owed $19,200 to the town and the county.

 

She shared with me that she had inherited the house when her mother died, and at age 68, she still “took good care of the house and the property.” But she couldn’t afford to eat and drive and “other modest things” and still pay her real estate taxes. How, she demanded, could I help her stop “them” from taking away her home?

 

We talked about a few things, including a reverse mortgage, and she was willing to make the calls and do the work to see what suggested route made the most sense for her. But before she said “goodbye,” she wanted to vent a bit.

 

“I love my country,” she said, “but it’s wrong to take away a person’s house if they can’t pay their real estate taxes. My mother didn’t leave it to the tax collector too, just me.”

 

Then, she asked a question that left me wondering as well. “Did the voters ever approve of this system, saying it’s OK to have your house grabbed when you can’t pay? I’ve lived in Suffolk County all my life, and I don’t ever remember being asked to vote for this. So, then, how did WE let this happen?”

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