A Madeline Walker Irony — or Coincidence — or Something Worse
Madeline Walker is the elderly Providence resident who lost her home for failing to pay a $500 sewer bill. A law proposed in the legislature earlier this year would have given Ms. Walker and others in similar situations a better chance to learn that their houses were being sold out from under them. House bill H6020 and its companion, Senate bill S478, would have required mandatory notification of the Department of Elderly Affairs during tax-lien sales involving residents with elderly abatements and explicitly invalidated tax-lien sales if Elderly Affairs was not notified.
Here’s the irony, or coincidence, or maybe something worse. In the Senate, the first Representative listed as a sponsor on the mandatory notification bill was State Senator Harold Metts. Senator Metts represents District 6 — the Senate district where Madeline Walker lived (122 Chester Ave, Providence).
In the House, the first sponsor listed on the mandatory notification bill was State Representative Joseph Almeida. Representative Almeida represents House District 12 which is, yes, that’s right, the House district where Madeline Walker lived.
This is quite a coincidence. Apparently, Senator Metts and Representative Almeida had reason to believe that their elderly constituents needed some extra protection from tax-lien sales. And, it turns out, they were right.
So, what was it exactly that motivated Senator Metts and Representative Almeida to press for changes in tax-lien sale procedure at the start of last year? And who in the legislature convinced them to water down their changes, making taking advantage of an elderly citizen like Madeline Walker much easier than it should be?