Thursday, May 17, 2012

California Homeowners and Advocates Ask California state legislators "Whose Side Are You On?"

California Legislative Conference Committee Hearing Homeowner Bill of Rights

Californians are asking legislators:  

"Whose side are you on? Banks or Californians?"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - Sacramento, California

A broad coalition of homeowners, faith leaders, community advocates and union members held a rally and press conference in support of the Homeowner Bill of Rights under consideration in Sacramento. AB 278 (Hill) and SB 900 (Leno) will extend the rights and protections negotiated in the $26 billion Attorneys General settlement with the five major banks announced earlier this year.  Among other reforms the bills will end the pernicious "dual track" process whereby homeowners lost their homes while negotiation a foreclosure alternative with their bank servicer.

For too long California state legislators have voted with the banks.  They have refused t support strong legislation that creates transparency and protections for California's homeowners.  This year Californians are standing up -- they are asking their legislators loud and clear:  "WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?"

Since 2008 approximately 2 million Californians have lost their homes.  Another 2.3 million hold mortgages that are underwater. Responsible homeowners are being lost in banks' foreclosure mills and are wrongfully losing their homes.  Meanwhile banks have spent over $70 million lobbying against reforms in Sacramento while evading taxes and foreclosing on struggling homeowners.  By creating due process Californian homeowners can be assured that banks are providing accurate information about the status of their loans and that they will have due process recourse if not.

The National mortgage Settlement was a good first step to stopping wrongful and unfair bank practices.  However California legislators are already poaching the relief provided.  On this same date Governor Jerry Brown proposed to close holes in the California budge with the $292 million that Attorney General Kamala Harris' Office of the Attorney General had planned to distribute to housing
counseling agencies and legal service providers.

At Tuesday's hearing the Joint Legislative Conference Committee was presented with a clear choice to make --  homeowners or bankers.  They heard from everyday Californians about the need to simplify the foreclosure process and to create protections and guarantees for California's struggling homeowners.  During the afternoon the Committee heard from the banks and their lobbyists and concluded with the riveting rebuttal testimony of Brenda Reed, an Oakland homeowner fighting foreclosure by Chase Bank, and that of two community advocates helping.


Stand with California Homeowners - Pass the Homeowner Bill of Rights

As members of  ReFund California, a coalition of community, consumer, faith, and labor organizations across California are calling on California legislators to publicly support AB278 (Hill) and SB 900  (Leno) to end duals tracking and to enact due process legislation containing strong enforcement provisions currently being heard by the Joint Legislative Conference Committee on Foreclosure Issues.

Members of the Committee: 
Senator Ron Calderon, Democrat, SD 30
Senator Sam Blakeslee, Republican, SD 15
SD 2 Noreen Evans; AD 10 Alison Huber; SD 16 Michael Rubio; AD 17 Cathleen Galgiani; AD 26 Bill Berryhill; AD 31 Henry T. Perea; SD 15 Sam Blakeslee; SD 20 Alex Padilla; SD 24 Ed Hernandez; SD 25 Roderick Wright; SD 30 Ron Calderon; SD 32 Gloria Negrete McLeod' AD 39 Felipe Fuentes; AD 43 Mike Gatto; AD 50 Ricardo Lara; AD 56 Tony Mendoza; AD 57 Roger Hernandez; AD 61 Norma Torres; SD 34 Lou Correa; AD 67 Jim Silva; AD 70 Donald Wagner; AD 71 Jeff Miller; SD 40 Juan Vargas; AD 75 Nathan Fletcher.

These legislative proposals embody provision that were contained in AB 1602, SF 1470, AB 2425, and SB 1471 as part of AG Harris' Homeowner Bill of Rights legislative package.  These bills must provide meaningful protections to all California homeowners as well as a mechanism for consumers to enforce their rights.  Californians cannot afford to wait.  We call on each of our state legislators to stand with the 671,00 California families who are at risk of losing their homes -- give them a full and fair chance to renegotiate their loans.  Give homeowners an even playing field.

Specifically we are seeking

1.  Strong Substantive Protections to Provide Borrowers with Fair Consideration of Alternatives to Foreclosure. AB 278 and SB 900 will provide homeowners with a fair process to be considered for alternatives to foreclosure. Based largely on provisions of the National Mortgage Settlement and servicing procedures required at present by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the conference report must include:
  • Substantial restrictions on dual tracking to include requirements that 
    • Borrowers who apply for a loan modification during the first 120 days of delinquency get a "yes" or "no" determination before the foreclosure process commences;
    • Borrowers who apply for a loan modification after the foreclosure process begins must have banks consider their application before the foreclosure process can continue
  • Procedural reforms require servicers to provide borrowers with adequate evidence of the servicer's right to bring foreclosure actions, including the original Note and Deed of Trust, and evidence of chain of title;
  • Prohibition of robosigning with meaningful penalties per violation;
  • Requirement that servicers provide borrowers seeking alternatives to foreclosure with a single point of contact.
2.  Effective Enforcement:  a clear and meaningful "private right of action" that gives borrowers their day in court and must include the following provisions:
  • Targeted Coverage:  provide redress to borrowers when major provisions of the law are violated.
  • Accountability Under the Law:  Homeowners whose rights are violated should have the opportunity to remain in or get back their homes if:
    • The foreclosure sale has not yet occurred.
    • The foreclosure sale has occurred but the home has not yet been sold to a bona fide third party or
    • The home has been sold to a bona fide third party purchaser but the purchaser, servicer AND homeowner agree too put the homeowner back in the home.
  • Financial Relief for Harm:  When homeowners cannot get back their homes, they must be able to get financial relief to compensate for the harm done and to give them a decent chance of transitioning to a stable housing situation.
  • No Exceptions:  Maintaining provisions that provide for a private right of action is paramount without exception.  The largest banks who are party to the National Mortgage Settlement Agreement are responsible for the majority of the foreclosure process abuse documented by federal regulators and communities.  To grant these institutions an exception from a private right of action would enable the exception to swallow the rule thus creating a massive loophole that will leave most Californians with no way to ensure that their servicers follow the law.  All banks and servicers should be covered by the law and bound to give due process and fair treatment to all California Homeowners.
Californians deserve to be protected from unfair servicing practices that lead to unnecessary foreclosure and should be provided with a meaningful opportunity to keep their homes.

These legislative proposals will serve as a catalyst toward helping California overcome its ongoing fiscal challenges.



Big banks paid themselves $146 billion in bonuses & compensation in 2010. 

Banks received $17 trillion in taxpayer bailouts & benefits. 

Banks flooded Sacramento with $70 million in political cash to ensure that they can keep pushing costs onto California taxpayers.

The Big 4 -- JPMorgan Chase Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America & Citi Group -- paid little or NO Taxes in California.

Banks foreclosed on 1.2 million Californians since 2008 with projections of 2 million by the end of 2012 making California the hardest hit state.

California Homeowners Underwater -- 2.3 million

671,000 or more California homeowners still facing foreclosure.

California is suffering over $21 billion in losses caused by Wall Street Banks for lost property tax revenue and local government costs for foreclosure.

California communities are facing billions of dollars to cuts to our public schools and vital services for the poor, elderly and disabled in 2012 due to loss in the tax base due to foreclosure and underwater borrowers.



Donald Wagner, Assembly, Republican AD 70

Senator Noreen Evans, Democrat, SD 2

Mike Eng, Assembly Member, Democrat, AD 49

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