States Negotiate $26 Billion Agreement to Help Homeowners
After months of painstaking talks, government authorities and five of the nation’s biggest banks have agreed to a $26 billion settlement that could provide relief to nearly two million current and former American homeowners harmed by the bursting of the housing bubble, state and federal officials said. It is part of a broad national settlement aimed at halting the housing market’s downward slide and holding the banks accountable for foreclosure abuses.
Despite the billions earmarked in the accord, the aid will help a relatively small portion of the millions of borrowers who are delinquent and facing foreclosure. The success could depend in part on how effectively the program is carried out because earlier efforts by Washington aimed at troubled borrowers helped far fewer than had been expected.
Still, the agreement is the broadest effort yet to help borrowers owing more than their houses are worth, with roughly one million expected to have their mortgage debt reduced by lenders or able to refinance their homes at lower rates. Another 750,000 people who lost their homes to foreclosure from September 2008 to the end of 2011 will receive checks for about $2,000. The aid is to be distributed over three years.
Source: The New York Times
Police Arrest Twelve Oakland Protesters from Occupied Foreclosed Home
Twelve protesters were arrested Dec. 29th when Oakland police removed activists who had occupied a foreclosed property in West Oakland, police said.
The property, located at 1415 and 1417 Tenth St., is listed as a foreclosed property for sale on several real estate websites and was occupied by activists from Occupy Oakland and Causa Justa. Activists with Causa Justa said the building had been occupied since an “Occupy Our Homes” day of action on Dec. 6 and had hosted as many as 60 people for a meeting on fighting home foreclosures.
"This is one of several properties in Oakland that are being squatted and occupied," journalist and Occupy Oakland protester Spencer Mills said. "This was the most publicized of the homes being occupied currently by Occupy Oakland and other groups."
After removing the protesters, work crews boarded up the vacant house’s doors and windows.
In the same neighborhood, police removed protesters camping in a vacant lot in the 2000 block of Peralta Street on Wednesday. Protesters had started setting up camp in the private lot, however after consulting with the property owner police moved in and removed the protesters, arresting one and citing 14.
Fighting Foreclosure - Make the Banks ‘Produce the Note’
Glitchthemachine did a nice job of researching and posting a number of resources related to fighting foreclosure. I am going to condense and supply the links and his text here.
This is a great video, it explains about MERS and how the mortgage industry privatized the record keeping process into an electronic system to make it cheaper and more efficient for them to sell/transfer/lose your loans.
Video: How To Use ‘Produce the Note’ Defense
“Your goal is to make certain the institution suing you is, in fact, the owner of the note. There is only one original note for your mortgage that has your signature on it. This is the document that proves you owe the debt.” Very interesting comments on this youtube video.
Video: Mortgage Servicers’ Secret
The secret mortgage servicers don’t want you to know is they can make MORE money off of homeowners when they keep your loan in default. A former employee of loan servicer EMC tells the inside story why so many people can’t get their loan out of default.
Video: 60 Minutes, April 2011
It was just a matter of time, but all those phony foreclosure papers banks have been using to foreclose on homeowners are coming back to haunt them.
Video: Woman Declares War on Bank and Wins!
This particular msnbc article is from 2009 but as you can see the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will release a final opinion on this very soon. “The question in the case is simply whether a foreclosing lender must hold both the note and mortgage at foreclosure.”
Article: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Appeal
In a rare direct appellate review, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to hear an appeal considering the controversial “produce the note” defense in foreclosure cases. Perhaps more importantly, the court may also consider whether a foreclosing lender must possess both the promissory note and the mortgage in order to foreclose. This is especially important for MERS mortgages.
Top Foreclosure Firm Threw Homeless-Themed Halloween Bash
If you’re one of the nation’s top “foreclosure mill” law firms—representing Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo in their attempts to foreclose on homes and evict homeowners—what better way to celebrate Halloween than by throwing a party where everyone comes as a dirty, homeless victim of your practice?
The New York Times’ Joe Nocera was sent a series of photos from a Halloween party thrown last year by the firm of Steven J. Baum—the “merciless” foreclosure mill, subject of a Justice Department investigation, and defendant in at least two class-action lawsuits over its shady foreclosure practices. In one photo, two women with fake dirt on their faces hold a sign that says “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and was never served!!”; in another, a woman holding a beer bottle in a paper bag pushes a shopping cart with a sign saying “will work for food.” They’re pretty horrible! Like, “would offend the richest, whitest frat at the most conservative university in the south” horrible. You can see the rest of the photographs here.
But, oh, it’s just Halloween, right? Usually Baum employees are kind and empathetic to the people whose lives they’re ruining, aren’t they? Well… no. The anonymous woman who sent the photos to Nocera says that they’re emblematic of the culture at Baum:
In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners - invariably poor and down on their luck - that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose.
The firm, when contacted by Nocera, called the photos “another attempt by The New York Times to attack our firm and our work.” Well… yeah. Because your firm is horrible and your work sucks.
Rose Gudiel and her family were squatters in their own home. They had lost a two-year battle against foreclosure, and the eviction date had arrived. They hunkered down in the house on Sept. 28, surrounded by dozens of homeowner advocates and friends, hoping to stave off forcible removal.
‘(The bank) kept saying we can’t do anything. Your case is closed,’ said Gudiel. “Our stand was, ‘No, we’re not leaving. This is our home. We worked hard for it and we’re just not going to leave.’
But instead of the anticipated confrontation, there was a dramatic reversal of fortune. Fanny Mae canceled the eviction notice and offered the Gudiels a loan modification that could enable them keep their home.
Nonprofit advocates say a series of bold protests — with reinforcements from the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement — and a spate of media interest put Rose in the limelight and forced the banks to back down.