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Common Council considering special tax auction to promote homeownership

With corporations and out-of-town investors increasingly attending city tax foreclosure auctions, the Common Council is considering giving people interested in homeownership first crack at Buffalo's foreclosed properties.

The measure, introduced at Tuesday's Council meeting by Lovejoy Councilman Richard A. Fontana, will be discussed at a Council committee meeting next month.

Too often, Fontana said, tax foreclosure properties are being purchased by out-of-town slumlords and unknown corporations. In addition to buying properties that might otherwise go to city residents, these corporations and out-of-town investors are ratcheting up prices, putting auctioned houses out of reach for city residents, the councilman said.

To address the problem, Fontana is suggesting the first day of Buffalo's multi-day foreclosure auctions be limited to those interested in purchasing properties they promise to live in for a minimum of five years.

"Homeownership is what we should be pushing," Fontana said.

He's hoping new rules can be in place before the city's next foreclosure auction in October.

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