BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Baltimore City homeowners have been unable to pay their property taxes.

Ray Thompson said his home means a lot to him. He said his parents worked hard to buy the home over 60 years ago that he and his sister live in today.

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“My dad was a mechanic, my mom cleaned houses,” he said.

Now, because Thompson can’t afford to pay his property taxes, he stands to lose it all.

“I probably could start working part-time if it wasn’t for the pandemic,” he said. “I could be homeless for all I know.”

Baltimore City uses the tax sale system, meaning if taxes aren’t paid every year, the city will list your home for sale.

“This year, there are over 3,500 home-owners on the tax sale list,” Margaret Henn, an attorney of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, said.

Baltimore City Council members are calling on the city’s leaders to take action.

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“We’re asking for the mayor and the Department of Finance to move or take homeowners out of this year’s tax sale,” Baltimore City councilwoman Odette Ramos said.

Last year, the city extended the tax sale from May to July due to COVID, but this year the tax sale is still scheduled for May.

“There are no protections for people who could, might lose their house to tax sale foreclosure,” Henn said.

In a statement to WJZ, Mayor Brandon Scott said he is working to, “explore all viable options for the upcoming tax lien certification sale” adding he’s “committed to charting a path forward in the coming weeks that prioritizes Baltimore homeowners in our hardest-hit communities.”

But with a notice of foreclosure, Thompson is among the thousands worried they may soon lose their home.

“It’d be really heartbreaking,” Thompson said.

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Annie Rose Ramos