Legislative Remedies for the Injustice of D.C.'s Real Property Tax Sale System
November-December 2014 — Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law "Clearinghouse Review"
Crowell & Moring is featured for its pro bono work in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE). LCE sought to build a coalition to advocate for legislative reform for D.C.'s method of unpaid property tax collection, which had allowed private third-party purchasers to gain all of the equity in a home over the amount of outstanding property tax debt and fees. Under the firm's counsel, LCE formed a wider coalition named HOME (the Alliance to Help Owners Maintain Equity), who drafted legislation to remedy problems with the tax sale system. After several months of inaction in the D.C. Council, the issue of the city's problematic tax lien sales program and the proposed legislation to remedy the problems were featured in a front page investigative series in the Washington Post. The compelling articles described the city's "predatory system of debt collection." Within a week of the Post series being published, the Council passed emergency legislation freezing the sale of homes belonging to seniors, veterans, and the disabled, after which the Council turned to LCE and Crowell & Moring for expert advice in drafting revised legislation.