Retired school teacher fears she will lose home after PACE loan

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – It’s the time of the year when Floridians start thinking about paying their property taxes and when 8 On Your Side Investigates starts getting calls about it. Right now, a retired school teacher is turning to 8 On Your Side because she’s afraid she’s about to lose her home.

“I live on a very small pension,” said Karen Cox.

“If I lose my home, I’ll be out on the street.”

Cox’s property tax notice more than doubled after she signed up to get a new roof. The 70-year-old utilized a government-sanctioned home improvement program called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE.

PACE enables homeowners with poor credit to obtain home improvement loans and pay it back through a special assessment on their property tax bill.

“When I got my tax bill, it was over a thousand dollars,” said Cox.

“It scared the heck out of me, how am I going to pay this?”

8 On Your Side Investigates has been exposing problems with the PACE program for months. Legislation has been drawn up. But in counties across the Tampa Bay area, homeowners are still getting duped.

According to Cox, the roofing company said her tax bill would only increase a couple of hundred dollars. Instead, Cox’s bill has skyrocketed to nearly $1,500 a year.

8 On Your Side called the Pasco County Tax Collector for help. Right now, Mike Fasano’s office is working with Cox to find a solution which could include a more manageable payment program.

There’s extra protection for consumers in Pasco County.

In 2018, Fasano created a list of disclosures that all PACE customers have to sign off on before the loans become final. Fasano says customers have backed out of PACE lending deals when they realized what it would actually cost them. He is the first tax collector in the state to require this disclosure to be signed.

“If there’s anything that can be done, great,” said Cox.

“I know I’m not the only person.”

8 On Your Side will continue to follow this story.

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