(originally posted on 2013-01-22: updated & reposted on 2013-01-31: corrected on 2013-02-01)
Occupy Fights Foreclosure has been working with Richard Castaldo to save his condo from foreclosure. Here are some press coverage on this case.
“Castaldo fought for his life 13 years ago in Colorado and will spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair. Now, he is fighting to keep his condominium in Southern California. Like millions of Americans, he is about to lose his home to foreclosure.” — NBC Los Angeles
Jan. 27, 2013
It has been almost 14 years since Richard Castaldo was shot eight times by two fellow students at Columbine High School. He survived, but was left unable to walk. Now he is involved in another struggle—to save his home from foreclosure.
Richard moved to California five years ago to study recording arts, and bought his Hollywood condominium in 2008. He made a hefty down payment of $150,000, and was talked into a predatory interest-only loan. The banks knew these loans were going to fail, but that didn’t matter to lenders like Wells Fargo—if borrowers couldn’t pay they would simply foreclose and collect on insurance policies they took out on the loans.
Richard kept up regular monthly payments for over three-and-a-half years. Then the economy crashed, and like millions of other Americans, he found himself falling behind on his payments. He tried to get a loan modification, and received offers of help in the mail, but they all demanded fees up front.
Finally Richard found an ally in Occupy Fights Foreclosures, which unites foreclosure victims and community activists fighting the foreclosure epidemic.
“I found out about a demonstration by OFF in front of the attorney general’s office trying to get her to prosecute the banks, and started coming to meetings around six or seven months ago,” says Richard. “The first big thing I participated in was when I went up to Sacramento with the group to get the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights signed.”
Wells Fargo, which has a clear track record of pushing untenable loans on the economically disadvantaged, was happy enough to take Richard's money over the years. But when things started to get a bit difficult, they didn't want to work with the homeowner. Immediately after OFF contacted them and challenged them about the predatory nature of Richard’s loan, Wells Fargo handed it off like a hot potato to a New York outfit that buys distressed properties at big discounts to profit on foreclosures.
The foreclosure epidemic has hit the most vulnerable the hardest—minorities, the elderly, children and disabled people like Richard. While government regulators cut deals with banks that have fraudulently stolen millions of homes, the victims are left to fend for themselves. But many, like Richard, have found hope by banding together with others.
“It’s hard to do it yourself because the banks roll over people, but it’s harder for them to get away with it when there’s a light shining on them,” he says.
OFF is determined to fight until Wells Fargo gives Richard a principal-and-interest modification at fair market value. The bank acted in bad faith by engaging in predatory lending, and then selling the loan when OFF challenged them. Now Wells Fargo needs to make things right.
“I hope I can stay in my home. I think we’ve gotten their attention,” he says.
RT America: Occupy tries to help Columbine survivor keep his home (1/9/2013)
Richard Castaldo was shot 8 times during the school schooting at Columbine High School. After surviving the massacre, Castaldo continues to fight, this time for his home in Los Angeles. He fell behind on his mortgage payments and now, his condo is up for auction. However, Occupy activists are standing behind him, trying to keep Castaldo from being evicted.
Huffington Post: Richard Castaldo, Columbine Shooting Survivor, Fighting Foreclosure With Occupy LA's Help (11/17/2012)
Richard Castaldo fought for his life 13 years ago, after he was shot eight times during the Columbine High School massacre. Now he’s fighting to save his home.
The survivor, who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair as a result of the shooting, moved to Los Angeles five years ago to pursue a career in music, only to fall behind on mortgage payments for his condo, NBC Los Angeles reports. He may have again found help in the form of Occupy Los Angeles.
NBC Los Angeles: Columbine survivor turns to Occupy LA to battle foreclosure (11/27/2012)
Occupy Fights Foreclosures says that it aims to “support, educate and empower homeowners at risk to save their homes from fraudulent foreclosure.”
Video by Huffington Post
Video by NBC Los Angeles