By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

On May 10 Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, City Comptroller Bill Henry and Councilwoman Odette Ramos (D-14) announced that owner-occupied homes on the City’s tax sale list had been removed.

According to Ramos, the news followed a May 10 Board of Estimates meeting where Scott, Mosby and Henry had just approved the removals.

“Reforming the tax sale process has been a key focus of my administration,” said Scott. “Through the Tax Sale Deferral Program, we removed 117 homes from tax sale in 2022, and this year 182 homes.”

“We know that connecting residents to the homeowner’s tax credit program is key to not only avoiding tax sale but preventing vacant properties,” continued Scott. 

According to the City website, the annual tax sale is when the City can “collect delinquent real property taxes and other unpaid charges owed to the City – liens against the real property. It is a public, online auction of City lien interests on properties.” If the homeowner cannot pay the City or the highest bidder, their property will be auctioned off. 

Scott said homes valued up to $250,000 were considered for removal. “We want to be able to focus on those most in need,” he told members of the press. 

According to Ramos, this initiative began in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We pulled homeowners out of tax sale during COVID-19 because of the hardship. We thought it wasn’t fair for them,” she said. “The fact that he’s removing [homes off the list] even after COVID-19 is a real commitment to reform.”

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) Director Margaret K. Henn, commented on the announcement.

“Mayor Scott’s decision to pull owner-occupants from Baltimore City’s tax sale list provides many homeowners, who were facing tax sale this year, with urgently needed relief,” said Henn in a statement to the AFRO. 

Nneka Nnamdi, founder of Fight Blight, also commented on the news.

“Removing occupied property from the tax sales list was good. However, it does not do nearly enough,” said Nnamdi. “The reality is tax sale is predatory and is an investment that wipes out Black, disabled homeowners experiencing economic violence– such as redlining.”

 “It’s good for those who applied, but not for those who weren’t eligible due to misclassified property because it was old,” she continued.

Scott could not say how many Black residents will see relief from the removal.

Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.