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Update – Senator Correa voted the right way;
the bill passed;
thanks to Orange Juice readers for flooding his phone lines!
(Note: this story is mostly stolen from some characteristically excellent work by my friend J.P. Massar of Daily Kos. I think that he’ll be cool with that.)
Once again, as with the health insurance reform bills, Lou Correa’s vote may turn out to be the deciding one next week when the State Senate considers the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights, a top priority for California Democrats and for those facing unjust foreclosures.
(Disclosure: I’m a candidate for State Senate in a district adjoining Correa’s. I support the bill. My take is like that of Publisher Vern: I like Correa about half of the time.)
You can read a two-page summary of the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights at this link (2 page PDF). JP summarizes a few of its top provisions this way:
- Prevent banks from initiating foreclosure proceedings while negotiating loan modification agreements as banksters have been wont to do.
- Establish a single point of contact for a homeowner entering loan modification negotiations or foreclosure proceedings, thereby reducing the “we never received / we lost your documents” bullshits banksters have employed time and time again to torment homeowners and wear them down.
- Provide a homeowner with a right to contest in front of a judge whether a foreclosing entity is legally entitled to foreclosure and whether legal procedures have been followed. Right now there is little or no judicial recourse with respect to foreclosure proceedings in California.
I summarize it this way: it reins in some of the horrible and sometimes deadly actions of banks and mortgage lenders and it gives homeowners some justice and mercy at a time of terrible economic upheaval. That is pretty much all you really need to know.
I don’t see why Correa should vote against this. Along with Ed Hernandez and Gloria Negrete McCloud, his could be one of the three votes that gets this through the State Senate. Correa and I don’t even make eye contact these days, no matter how hard I stare at him, so I’m not going to call him. I leave that to readers like you.
I will say that this goes onto the not all that large pile of votes that we will remember in the future — and that we will use to paint an accurate portrait of Lou Correa.
That picture up there, by the way? Those are foreclosures going on within the pictured portion of Santa Ana. Those are lives of families in the process of being ruined — largely for the lack of justice.
UPDATE: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a major proponent of the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights, just released the following statement:
As California attorney general, I have traveled the state to see how the mortgage crisis continues to impact California families. I have visited neighborhoods where empty homes are magnets for criminal activity. I have heard the stories of responsible homeowners who lost their family homes – who lost their piece of the American Dream.
For far too long, too many California homeowners have been ensnarled in a long and painful nightmare. Here in San Bernardino County, there were more than 102,000 foreclosures between 2008 and 2011. That translates to 1 out of every 7 homes.
We are now at a crossroads.
According to recent estimates, there are as many as 700,000 California households in the “foreclosure pipeline” today – many of them in San Bernardino County. What these homeowners will tell you is that they need relief now.
In particular, they need the flaws in this system to be fixed, such as dual tracking – the dysfunctional practice in which a bank forecloses while the homeowner is negotiating in good faith for a loan modification.
Struggling homeowners also describe another experience that I have heard countless times: They’ll call their banks, only to be connected to a different person each time and someone who is unfamiliar with their situation and doesn’t have their paperwork. They’re continually forced to re-explain their situation and submit, often by fax machine, the same mountain of paperwork.
The solution is the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which will end dual tracking and give homeowners a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person at the bank who knows the facts of their case, has their paperwork and can get them a decision about their application.
This week, we took a step in the right direction. Key elements of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights passed out of a legislative conference committee. The next step comes on Monday, when the full Legislature is set to vote on its passage – and it is my hope we’ll do what is right.
The national mortgage settlement we achieved last fall secured a commitment of up to $18 billion for California homeowners from the nation’s five major banks. It was an important first step. But the protections of that agreement apply only to Californians whose home loans are handled by one of those five banks. The same common-sense protections should apply across the board, which is why we need the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.
I encourage every Californian to reach out to their legislators and urge them to make sure we pass the California Homeowner Bill of Rights. This is not a partisan issue. This is a basic issue of fairness – and one that requires action now.