“Homes for the taking”: Must-read investigative report on District of Columbia program that drives some poor people out of their homes

Read it here. Here's the page-one, top-of-the-paper headline in today's Washington Post:

This man [pictured above the fold in the Post] owed $134 in property taxes.

The District [of Columbia] sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 home and sold it.

He and many other homeowners like him were LEFT WITH NOTHING.

Here's an excerpt that gives you the theme of the story:

For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners
failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to
mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on
top of the tax debt until the money was repaid. But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a
predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town
companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then
foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post
investigation found. As the housing market soared, the investors scooped up liens in every
corner of the city, then started charging homeowners thousands in legal
fees and other costs that far exceeded their original tax bills, with
rates for attorneys reaching $450 an hour.

Today's segment is part one of a three-part piece by Michael Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, and Steven Rich.

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