Friday, August 26, 2011

Tax Foreclosure, Part IV The Move Out

After months of uncertainty the time finally came for Annie to move out. Members of her family came from all over town to help. Sisters, brothers, sons, grand children and great-grand children carried boxes and appliances out of her dilapidated house.

Annie eventually went to stay with one of her sisters a few streets over. We've since lost contact with her, but I'm hopeful we'll be able to reconnect.

This project is ongoing, so I'm anticipating covering the next county auction in September, as well as tax forbearance hearings in court in January. The truth is, it's a problem without any easy solutions, just another situation in a cycle of poverty claiming more and more once-middle-class people. Annie worked all her life. She raised four boys on her own and helped raise two more generations of her family after that. She didn't have much money, but when someone would drop their kids off without notice she'd feed and care for them.

Tax foreclosure is something I hadn't heard of before April, but it's an issue continuing to plague our community even as it flies under the radar.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tax Foreclosure, Part III Introducing Annie

I met Annie while Holly (the reporter) and I were making the rounds with Karen to check on the tax foreclosed properties in early April. We followed up with her over the next few months as she went back and forth about what to do.

Annie's story seemed to be pretty typical for tax foreclosures.

Three generations of her family had lived at the house, and she had let her children, grand children and great-grand children stay for months at a time without helping to pay rent, utilities or for their own food. When the bills piled up, she didn't tell many people in her family. Those she did tell generally played down the issue. So flash forward three years and her home was taken by the county for back taxes on April 1.

Despite the several notices posted by the county on her door and a personal visit from Karen, Annie was still unsure whether or not she would need to leave her house.

In late July, the county's process server finally came to evict her. Annie and her family pleaded for more time to move out of the house and were granted almost a week's reprieve. Still, when the locks were finally changed many of the possessions she had lived a life time with remained behind.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tax Foreclosure Interlude

Had a spot of rather fun weather tonight. It rolled in while I was shooting a slow pitch softball tournament and then proceeded to dump buckets of rain on us.

I finally was able to shoot some lightening. On a side note, I am pretty much the worst storm chaser ever, as Libby March can attest. However, in the immortal words of Mr. Nick Dentamaro, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes Katie."

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tax Foreclosure, Part II

Introducing Pat and Reuel. The husband/wife duo are the county's eyes, ears and hands when it comes to managing the tax foreclosed properties.

Their company secures the properties after the county takes possession of them. They do regular checks to ensure they're secure, in addition to all the maintenance (like lawn mowing.) Pat tours each one, making assessments and then recommendations to the county about what condition the property is in, as well as what is fit to feature for open house. On the years when the county hosts open houses, they fix up the interiors for show.

Pat and Reuel work between 10 and 14 hour days as the annual auctions draw closer. Both take their jobs very seriously, and feel a deep obligation to be good neighbors in the community. They were great to work with.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tax Foreclosure, Part I

This is the first part of an ongoing project I'm working on here at the Citizen Patriot. I'd wanted to do a project on the impact of foreclosure in our community for a while, but this March Holly Klaft approached me about doing a ride along with our county treasurer while she checked on properties acquired because of tax foreclosure.

Once we realized the instance of tax foreclosure was growing rapidly in our community and that few, if any, avenues of help were available to help those in need, we decided to expand the story into a project. Well, the first two stories ran Sunday and Monday. The links to the written stories are:

There's also a video and a gallery of images, though I'll be posting a tighter edit here.

These images are from the house visits I did with Karen, our county treasurer. She tries to get around to each of the houses, particularly if there might still be people living in them.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Floydfest II

The adventure continues. . .

Monday, August 8, 2011


Finally got around to editing my photos from the road trip down to Floyd, VA. Marcus and I hopped into the mom van with Jeana and Dylan and made our way south for the music festival. These are a few frames from the first night of our trip, mostly from Ohio and West Virgina.

As always, thanks for looking.