CA LEGISLATURE PASSES STRONG HOMEOWNERS BILL OF RIGHTS DUE TO PUBLIC ATTENTION GENERATED BY OCCUPY HOMEOWNER ADVOCATES
National Precedent Creates Good Foundation for Levee Against Economic Tsunami
Immediate Moratorium Needed to Protect Families from Foreclosure Until Bill Goes Into Effect
LOS ANGELES—The California legislature today approved key provisions of the Homeowners Bill of Rights designed to empower homeowners who are battling the loan modification process and fighting foreclosures. Two key bills—SB 900 and AB 278—were passed by both Senate and Assembly. The Joint Legislative Conference Committee on Foreclosure Issues passed these bills last Wednesday following strong public attention successfully generated by Occupy Fights Foreclosures and allied homeowner activist groups. (Occupy LA protesters rally at Calderon's Montebello office, urge homeowners bill of rights - Pasadena Star-News http://bit.ly/Nf6x1O )
Key provisions remained in the bill due to public pressure and attention:
Protections to end "dual tracking," the widely reported practice whereby banks string homeowners along in a loan modification process while continuing to foreclose and auction the home at the same time.
Requirements for a single point of contact, designed to end the routine practice of banks giving the runaround to homeowners seeking a loan modification.
Private right of action, by which homeowners can sue banks directly for violations of law including forged documents and process violations.
No exemption for the big banks that signed the settlement with the states' Attorneys General — these banks remain accountable for individual harm.
Homeowners are enabled to demand banks verify that they hold the debt and have a legal right to foreclose.
Homeowners are able to stop a trustee sale if they reasonably suspect fraud.
"This bill is a good foundation for a levee to stop the economic tsunami of foreclosures," says Carlos Marroquin, Occupy Fights Foreclosures activist. "But before the bill goes into effect at the beginning of next year, thousands of families are facing desperation. We need an immediate moratorium. We must protect these families from the end result of a decade of bank fraud."
"Housing is a huge domino in the economy and we're not even half-way through this crisis," said Suzanne O'Keeffe, writer and OFF activist. "About 70 percent of foreclosed homes have been repossessed by the banks — that's a huge backlog of bank-owned homes not on the market. About 11 million homes are underwater. Banks have defrauded millions of families — according to the San Francisco County audit, almost all foreclosures have suspicious documentation or legal violations. This bill is long overdue."