Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Foreclosure: Fighting for our Homes
Already we've seen the widening of the wealth gap just through the last few years of the economic crisis. And in a society where home-ownership is seen as a significant first step in an attempt to secure the American dream, people of color are currently in crisis, as we are losing what little we have.
This from ColorOfChange.org:
The big banks are at it again. First they targeted minority communities with subprime loans and other predatory lending schemes, helping to make Black Americans and Latinos 70% more likely than Whites to be in foreclosure.1
Now we're learning that the very same banks and mortgage lenders have been foreclosing on homes around the nation without verifying that they have the right to do so.
The stories are horrifying: in Ohio, a bank foreclosed on a man after insisting for months that it didn't hold his loan and refusing to accept his payments. In Florida, Bank of America tried to take a house away from a man who never even had a mortgage. The more we learn, the worse it gets.
If you're a homeowner, one possible way to protect yourself from the banks' bad behavior is to demand your note and make them prove they own your mortgage. A new online tool makes it easy. Check it out and please share this information with your friends and family. It could help to save your home or that of someone you love:
The banks have been trying to write off their failure to properly verify ownership as a mere technicality. But it's much more serious than that, and Attorneys General in all 50 states have banded together to investigate the illegal foreclosures, and several elected leaders have called for criminal charges to be filed against the banks.
You would think that it would be easy to produce the documents needed for the banks to verify ownership. But during the real estate boom, banks cut corners with paperwork in order to make as many loans as possible, and then sold the loans to other lenders in complicated financial maneuvers designed to maximize the banks' profits.
Now it has come to light that banks have been paying "foreclosure mills" to take homes away as quickly as possible, before homeowners even realize that anything might be amiss. And it appears that these foreclosure mills are operating without actually following the law -- foreclosing without the proper legal documentation. In some cases, notaries responsible for verifying the documents aren't even reading them. And in other cases, the documents are just being fabricated -- made up to cover the banks' tracks. This is foreclosure fraud. It's not legal, and it's not right.
Given their role in creating the foreclosure crisis through predatory practices and deception, banks should be doing what they can to avoid foreclosures and keep people in their homes. This could be done by lowering interest rates, or better yet -- reducing the principal to reflect the crash in housing prices. Foreclosures are only further devastating communities already hard hit by record unemployment.
But the banks seem uninterested. It appears that they would rather commit mortgage fraud to protect their bottom line. That’s why it’s up to us to make sure that they’re following the law to the letter. And if enough of us do so, we'll help to create a new financial environment where banks are held more accountable to homeowners and the legal system. If you have a mortgage, protect yourself and your family by demanding your note, and please share this information with your friends and family. It takes just a moment:
Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Natasha, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
November 17th, 2010
1. "Minorities hit harder by foreclosure crisis," Washington Post, 6-19-2010
2. "Foreclosure Fraud: It's Worse Than You Think," CNBC, 10-12-2010
3. "Mortgage foreclosure uproar sweeps up Northeast Ohioans," The Plain Dealer, 10-17-2010
4. "Lauderdale man's home sold out from under him in foreclosure mistake," The Sun Sentinel, 9-23-2010
5. See Reference 2
6. "States to Probe Mortgage Mess," Wall Street Journal, 10-11-2010
7. See Reference 2
8. "Foreclosure Furor Rises; Many Call for a Freeze," New York Times, 10-5-2010
9. "4ClosureFraud Posts Lender Processing Services Mortgage Document Fabrication Price Sheet," naked capitalism, 10-3-2010