February 29, 2012

Statement on AG Harris proposed Homeowner Bill of Rights Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 29, 2012

Contact:

Dave Lagstein, ACCE, 619-602-2206, dlagstein@calorganize.org

STATEMENT FROM members of the ReFund California Coalition, including:  Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Courage Campaign and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).

Statement from members of the ReFund California Coalition, including:  Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), Courage Campaign and People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).

We applaud the announcement of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package of legislative bills by Attorney General Kamala Harris and the leadership of Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg.  ReFund California is calling upon the Legislature and the Governor to pass this package immediately and resist efforts of the powerful bank lobby to water them down.  Until these protections are in place, thousands of families will needlessly lose their homes every day. That is why we are calling for an immediate halt to all foreclosures in California as this bill package moves through the legislature these next 4 months.

This announcement is the latest development that offers a glimmer of hope for those seeking compensation for the crimes that devastated homeowners and crashed the economy.  Each of these critical developments has the potential to bring relief over the next several months. Unfortunately, though, none of these positive developments changes the fact that a California family gets a foreclosure notice every 76 seconds.

  • This month a $25 billion multi-state settlement with five major banks was announced, which brings a measure of relief in the form of principal reductions, loan refinances, and some restitution for foreclosure abuses for an estimated 466,000 Californians. However, it will take six to nine months before homeowners begin to benefit from this relief.  This wait could cost hundreds of thousands of borrowers their homes.
  • President Obama has announced that a new financial fraud task force led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will investigate the criminal behavior that led to the financial collapse.  The task force and the work already underway by Attorney General Harris have potential to create the leverage to negotiate principal reduction and full restitution for homeowners on a much larger scale.  According to a recent report, principal reduction for all underwater homeowners would inject more $20 billion into the California economy and generate over 300,000 jobs.
  • The suspicions of many were validated when an audit conducted by San Francisco county assessor Phil Ting showed that 99% of mortgages had inappropriate paperwork and 84% violated state law.  Ting has forwarded his findings to Attorney General Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who have both called for further state and federal actions and investigations.

The organizing work of Refund Coalition members and our allies has played a pivotal role in creating the public pressure and political will to hold banks accountable and to provide relief and restitution to homeowners.  We will continue our efforts to ensure that the ongoing investigation provides relief for many more homeowners and call upon legislators to take immediate action to prevent unwarranted and unjust foreclosures. Without such immediate action, borrowers like Archbishop Franzo King of San Francisco, will never see the benefits of the multi-state settlement. He believes that he could be eligible for compensation under the settlement, but his home is scheduled to be sold at auction on April 5.

“The passage of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package and an immediate halt to foreclosures will protect homeowners while the process for real relief runs its course.  In the coming months, ACCE will be fighting for a swift and fair implementation of this month’s multi-state settlement and a broader investigation and prosecution that will result in principal reduction for underwater homeowners,” said Vivian Richardson, a member of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

"California homeowners continue to suffer from irresponsible and unfair foreclosure practices, such as the dual track process. We need strong legislation in California in order to protect homeowners now and in the future," said Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition.

"California was the epicenter of the mortgage meltdown. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of homeowners, saw their life savings and hopes destroyed by the big banks who both got bailed out and made fortunes by screwing the middle class. The 49-state mortgage settlement was a very small first step in the process of fixing the mess. Now, under the leadership of AG Harris, our legislature has the chance to side with homeowners to stop foreclosures and make banks pay," said Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign.

“Last year, despite one of the worst for California Homeowners, some members of the State Legislature whose constituents have been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis wouldn’t let similar legislation out of committee,” stated Norma Garcia of Consumers Union.  “As the crisis deepens and evidence of improper foreclosures mounts, legislators have no more excuses to not protect California’s homeowners.”

California cannot tolerate yet another year of mass foreclosure while leaders in Sacramento stand by idly, allowing the banks to break laws and evict families from their homes.  State legislators must side with the homeowners who elected them, not the banks that line their campaign coffers,” said Rob Goodman, a leader with PICO CA in Fresno, who has been fighting foreclosure of his home for over two years.  

Californians need a temporary halt in all foreclosures until there is due process for all families struggling to keep their homes.  Crucial elements of the Homeowner Bill of Rights package include a requirement to prove a clean chain of title on the mortgage and an end to dual tracking, where the servicer pursues a foreclosure for a family attempting to negotiate a modification.  Struggling homeowners and the economy of our state depend on swift and decisive action to refund and rebuild our hardest hit communities. 

 

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ReFund California is a coalition of nearly 50 different community, faith, labor, consumer rights and human service organizations working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices.  Through legislation, advocacy, direct action, and accountability, ReFund California’s primary goals are to hold Wall Street banks accountable and have them invest back into rebuilding our hardest hit communities. 

ACCE is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic, and racial justice.  Made up of thousands of dues paying members organizing in eleven counties, grassroots community leaders are creating transformative change by helping ordinary citizens to organize and take action.

CRC is the California Reinvestment Coalition, a coalition of over 300 nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the state of California advocating for the right of low-income communities and communities of color to have fair and equal access to banking and other financial services.

Courage Campaign is an online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots activists to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. As a leading multi-issue advocacy organization, Courage Campaign's work is supported by thousands of small donations from our diverse community.

PICO is California is People Improving Communities through Organizing,  the largest grassroots congregation-based community-organizing network in California. Nineteen local PICO federations organize in 73 cities, 35 school districts, and in more than one-half of the state's Senate and Assembly districts, reaching from San Diego to Placer County. Together, PICO federations represent 450,000 families of diverse economic, racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds across the state. PICO CA is part of the PICO National Network, which includes organizations in 16 states. 

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ABOUT US: ReFUND California is a coalition of organizations throughout California committed to exposing the unfairness of the state’s current economic reality and engaging in public campaigns to force the changes that are necessary.

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