In the three years since banks dramatically stepped up their purchases of tax liens, the same institutions that bought liens here have foreclosed on more than 3,000 Pima County homeowners.

In many cases, the foreclosed homes are in the same neighborhoods - or even across the street - as homes whose tax liens they purchased.

While banks say there is little or no connection between the tax-lien certificates and foreclosed mortgages, maps assembled by the Arizona Daily Star show there is, at minimum, a geographic relationship between the two.

In one neighborhood near South Sixth Avenue and West Irvington, JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on four homeowners while buying $5,000 worth of tax liens on nearby properties.

Peter Ronald Ellison, a builder who lost two properties in that neighborhood to foreclosure, along with 10 others elsewhere, was surprised to learn JPMorgan Chase was buying up liens all around him while foreclosing on his property.

"They wouldn't even talk to me," said Ellison, who finally shut down his business and went back to California, where he grew up.

"They could have used that money to save those loans," he said.

"That's the money they got from the government to bail them out," Ellison said. "The banks are just sitting on their money and not doing what they said they would do. And why should they? Nobody is making them."