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.

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rainforestactionetwork

bankruptingamerica (via Intersectionssouthla.org):

Community joins fight against retired teacher’s foreclosure

Community activists arrived in droves to a small house on W. 60th St in South Los Angeles late on Wednesday afternoon, with the intent of blocking the eviction of 79 year-old retired teacher Faith Parker. …

According to daughter Saundra Parker, in 2006, at the height of the real estate bubble, the house worth about $350,000. “My mother refinanced and took out a $150,000 loan to pay for some family medical and legal bills without telling me. When I saw the bill the first time I saw it was an adjustable loan. I called Countrywide right away to change it, but they said it couldn’t be done. So we just stuck with it.”

When the adjustable mortgage became too heavy a load in 2008, the Parkers applied for a loan modification with Countrywide. A year later, they received a notice from Bank of America informing them they were the new mortgage holders.They offered a loan modification. Saundra says a bank representative told her they couldn’t proceed, because the loan was not in arrears. “They told me to stop making the payments, so we would go in arrears and then qualify for the loan modification,” she claims.

The Parkers stopped making payments in 2009 and filed the paperwork for the loan modification. In May of 2011 they were denied the modification and the house went into foreclosure.

“Bank of America promised to work with my mother, but they lied,” says Saundra. “It’s called greed and elder abuse.”

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.

15 minutes of Ustream footage

inothernews

The Securities and Exchange Commission has brought civil fraud charges against six former top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying they misled the government and taxpayers about risky subprime mortgages the mortgage giants held during the housing bust.

Those charged include the agencies’ two former CEOs, Fannie’s Daniel Mudd and Freddie’s Richard Syron. They are the highest-profile individuals to be charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis. The case was filed in federal court in New York City.

In a statement released through his attorney, Mudd said the lawsuit “should never have been brought” and said the government reviewed and approved all of the company’s financial disclosures. ”Every piece of material data about loans held by Fannie Mae was known to the United States government to the investing public,” Mudd said. “The SEC is wrong, and I look forward to a court where fairness and reason — not politics — is the standard for justice.”

According to the lawsuit, Fannie told investors in 2007 that it had roughly $4.8 billion worth of subprime loans on its books, or just 0.2 percent of its portfolio. The SEC says that Fannie actually had about $43 billion worth of products targeted to borrowers with weak credit, or 11 percent of its holdings.

Freddie told investors in 2006 that it held between $2 billion and $6 billion of subprime mortgages on its books. The SEC says its holdings were actually closer to $141 billion, or 10 percent of its portfolio in 2006, and $244 billion, or 14 percent, by 2008.

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million loans. The Bush administration seized control of the mortgage giants in September 2008. So far, the companies have cost taxpayers almost $150 billion — the largest bailout of the financial crisis. They could cost up to $259 billion, according to its government regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration.

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. 

Video: Homeowner Demands Bank to Produce the Note

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! 


Article: New Foreclosure Defense - Prove I Owe You

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.

truthcontrol
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.
[NYT]

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.

[NYT]

mknmv
Homeowner taps ‘Occupy’ protest  to avoid foreclosure
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.

Homeowner taps ‘Occupy’ protest  to avoid foreclosure

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.