Federal funds to help pay St. Louis homeowners’ tax debt

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A coalition that helps St. Louis homeowners avoid losing their homes to delinquent property taxes has received an injection of federal funding.

Mayor Tishaura Jones announced Wednesday that she will transfer $500,000 of the city’s U.S. Bailout Act allocation to the Property Tax Relief Fund. This means that the fund has achieved the original fundraising goal it set when it launched in November.

“Preventing foreclosures benefits our entire city, and with the American Rescue Plan Act, we’re trying new ways to get the support St. Louisians need,” Jones said.

Properties whose property taxes have not been paid for two or more years are put up for sale at tax auctions, even if the owners live there at the time. Officials estimate that up to 75 families a year lose their homes this way.

The assistance fund intervenes before the auction and helps the owner to settle his debt, up to a maximum of $3,500. Coalition member Park Central Development helps determine which families are eligible – these families also receive much-needed legal help and financial education.

Park Central executive director Abdul Abdullah said many families, especially those living in large homes that are passed down through the family, could find themselves having to make costly and unscheduled repairs.

“If the dollars aren’t there to fix the house, I have a choice: pay my taxes or stay in my house,” he said.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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