New Protections For Widowed Homeowners and Other Heirs in California

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Great news!  Senate Bill 1150, the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was signed into law on September 29, 2016.  The law will take effect in January, 2017.

SBOR will address egregious behavior by banks and mortgage servicers who have refused to speak with surviving homeowners about their family homes and option to retain them.

If you are a surviving homeowner who is hitting a brick wall when trying to speak with your mortgage servicer, please contact us so we can connect you to resources.

To learn more about SB1150, you can read this Los Angeles Times article:

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill that’s designed to give widows and widowers a better shot at saving their homes when they fall behind on mortgage payments. Senate Bill 1150 boosts protections against foreclosure for surviving spouses who own their home but are not on its mortgage note.

Read the rest of the article here:  California Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that boosts protection for surviving spouses against foreclosure  (Andrew Khouri, Sept. 29, 2016)

 

California Reinvestment Coalition Proud of New Law to Protect Californians from “Widow Foreclosures”

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SB 1150 WILL PROTECT HOMEOWNERS FROM NEEDLESS FORECLOSURES

San Francisco, CA- September 29– The California Reinvestment Coalition is pleased to announce that earlier today, Governor Brown signed SB 1150 (Leno, Galgiani) to protect widows, widowers, and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150, the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was co-sponsored by the California Reinvestment Coalition, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and the California Alliance for Retired Americans.

SBOR will address some of the most egregious foreclosure practices reported by California homeowners whose loved ones have passed away. Previously, banks and other mortgage servicers have refused to speak to surviving homeowners and have subsequently foreclosed on them. A surviving homeowner is defined as a person who owns a home but whose deceased loved one was the only person listed on the mortgage. This can include widowed spouses, domestic partners, heirs, siblings, and joint tenants.

Under the new law, servicers will now have to speak with these surviving homeowners and provide clear information about their options and the process to assume the mortgage and possibly seek a modification. As a recourse, similar to the Homeowner Bill of Rights, surviving homeowners will be able to sue banks and mortgage servicers that don’t comply with the law. SBOR takes effect in January, 2017.

“The American dream has turned into a nightmare for people like me. My husband passed away in February this year. Instead of spending time to properly grieve, I’ve spent the last six months trying to get Ocwen, my mortgage servicer, to talk to me about how to keep our home of 28 years. I’m glad other survivors like me won’t have to go through what I have” comments Kit Dillon Givas, a surviving homeowner from Sacramento.

“Today is a victory for seniors, for protecting the largest asset most of us will ever own, for stopping mortgage servicing abuses that were leading to needless foreclosures, and for stabilizing California communities. We thank the nonprofit housing counselors, attorneys and other advocates who first brought these abuses to light, who helped homeowners to keep their homes, and who supported SB 1150 throughout the legislative process. We’re also grateful to the homeowners who courageously testified about the many challenges they faced so that other survivors wouldn’t have to in the future,” explains Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

“Surviving homeowners deserve better than the senseless obstacles created by mortgage servicers which were too often leading to unnecessary foreclosures. Our attorneys will monitor the implementation of SBOR closely and will work to inform surviving homeowners about these important new protections. We encourage mortgage servicers to immediately start working with these at-risk homeowners and to start training their staff and updating their policies and procedures now so that they’ll be compliant when this law takes effect in January” explains Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

“The majority of senior homeowners want to age in place in their own homes, but you can’t do that if your home has been foreclosed on because of bank red tape,” explains Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.  She adds: “Senator Leno stood up for senior homeowners, and we commend him for it.”

“Leaders of the banking industry have proven their contempt for individuals by consistently skirting the law and taking advantage of good citizens long enough. It’s time we take back our economic rights. SB 1150 is a great step in this direction and Californians can be proud to be among the first in the nation to make this bold move. For all those who, like me, have experienced irreparable financial hardship at the hands of the banking and finance industry, you are not alone and together we will change conditions for those who follow” comments Ric Hornor, a surviving homeowner from El Dorado County, who testified in support of SB 1150.

“My mom passed away and it’s been a nightmare ever since. The mortgage servicer refused to speak with me, refused to accept payments, and moved to foreclose on me. I’m glad to see that SB1150 is now law so that servicers will have to actually speak with surviving homeowners like me and to explain our options for assuming the loan and keeping our homes,” explains Anthony Barcellos, a surviving homeowner from Citrus Heights California.

Background: After hearing from housing counselors and attorneys who were trying to help surviving homeowners, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and the California Reinvestment Coalition sent a detailed legal analysis and recommendations to housing and banking regulators in 2012. Subsequent guidance by Fannie Mae (2013), Freddie Mac (2013), the US Department of Treasury (2013), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (2014), instructed mortgage servicers on assisting surviving homeowners. Despite these new guidelines, 87% of respondents in a 2014 survey of California housing counselors and attorneys said the “widows issue” was still a problem. The CFPB disclosed in August 2016 that they had received the most public comments about this issue in a recent mortgage servicing rule update.

Broad Support: SB 1150 was co-sponsored by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). SB 1150 was supported by a “who’s who” of California leaders, nonprofits, and unions, including: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, AARP California, California NAACP, Courage Campaign, CalPIRG, Central Valley Realtist Board, the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, the National Council of La Raza, National Housing Law Project, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, People’s Self Help Housing Corporation, Public Counsel, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, and more. To see a full list of supporters, visit www.survivorbillofrights.org.

White Paper: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates released a white paper in 2016 that explains how women are far more likely to be impacted by this issue; that these needless foreclosures wipe out the main asset most Americans own (especially older Americans); that older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place;” and that banks were actively lobbying against these important protections. The paper is available for free download here: Whose Home Is It Anyway? How The Modern Mortgage Servicing Industry Strips Wealth From Low and Moderate Income Communities In the U.S. And California

For more information about SB 1150, please visit www.survivorbillofrights.org, which includes stories from surviving homeowners, a list of the more than 60 supporting organizations, and more information about the bill.

How YOU can Help Stop “Widow Foreclosures” by Contacting Governor Brown

SB 1150 approval by Senate

After months of hard work, hearings, and media coverage about Senate Bill 1150 (Leno, Galgiani), it was approved by the California Senate yesterday!

Now, the bill heads to Governor Brown.

And that’s where you can help!

If you have been impacted by this issue personally (or have friends or relatives who have), if you are a housing counselor or attorney who has helped “surviving homeowners,” or if you have followed this issue and believe in the need for SB 1150, then we need your help, as soon as possible.

If you have ten minutes, please write a quick letter to Governor Brown and put it in the mail.  We’ve been informed that real letters

Here’s a link to the sample letter.

If you have any questions, please contact CRC:  Kstein AT calreinvest.org.

And, we extend a HUGE thank you to Senator Leno and Senator Galgiani, the more than 60 organizations supporting SB 1150, the brave homeowners who have shared their difficult stories about facing needless foreclosures, and the housing counselors and legal aid attorneys who originally helped bring this problem to the public light. 

Sincerely,

The SB1150 Team

California Reinvestment Coalition

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates

California Alliance for Retired Americans

 

 

California Senate Approves Protections for Widowed Homeowners: Next Stop: Governor Brown

 

SB 1150 approval by Senate

Earlier today, California’s Senate approved Senate Bill 1150, legislation designed to protect widows, widowers, and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150 (Leno, Galgiani), the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was approved by the Senate with 23 votes for it. The bill is now headed to Governor Brown.

Authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, SB 1150 provides critical protections for widowed spouses and other survivors including domestic partners, heirs, siblings, joint tenants, and other people who own their homes but who weren’t listed on the mortgage. SBOR closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide protections to surviving homeowners against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners.

“Today’s vote is an important step forward in protecting California seniors from unnecessary foreclosures that are the direct result of mortgage servicer red tape and intransigence.  We urge Governor Brown to sign SB1150 into law, and we extend our gratitude to all of the surviving homeowners who have courageously testified and shared their difficult stories about the need for SB 1150, as well as the more than 60 organizations supporting SB 1150” comments Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB1150.

“Attorneys at HERA have worked with dozens of surviving homeowners facing this problem, and while each story is unique, the obstacles they’ve faced from their servicers are not. Servicers refuse to speak with surviving homeowners, give them misleading and inaccurate information about options to retain their home, refuse to accept payments, and attempt to foreclose on them. SB 1150 puts a stop this bad behavior and helps to protect the largest asset most of us will ever own. We hope Governor Brown agrees that protecting seniors from these needless foreclosures makes sense” explains Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

“We’ve worked hard to educate our legislators about the very real impact this problem is having on California seniors, and today’s vote is an acknowledgement that SB 1150 is smart public policy. We encourage Governor Brown to sign this bill to help protect Californians, especially seniors, and especially women, from these needless foreclosures” adds Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance of Retired Americans, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

Broad Support: SB 1150 is co-sponsored by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). SB 1150 is supported by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and over 60 well-known organizations, including AARP California, Courage Campaign, CalPIRG, the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, the National Council of La Raza, National Housing Law Project, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, and more. To see a full list of supporters, visit www.survivorbillofrights.org.

White Paper: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates released a white paper focused on this issue. The paper (Whose Home Is It Anyways?) explains how women are far more likely to be impacted by this issue; that these needless foreclosures wipe out the main asset most Americans (especially older Americans) own; that older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place;” and that banks are actively lobbying against these important protections. The paper is available for free download here: Whose Home Is It Anyway? How The Modern Mortgage Servicing Industry Strips Wealth From Low and Moderate Income Communities In the U.S. And California

California Assembly Approves Bill to Stop “Widow Foreclosures”

PROPOSED LAW WOULD BE FIRST IN THE NATION TO PROTECT SURVIVOR HOMEOWNERS

NEXT STOP: SENATE, THEN GOVERNOR BROWN

San Francisco, CA August 22, 2016– Earlier today, California’s assembly moved one step closer to enacting legislation designed to protect widows, widowers, and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150 (Leno, Galgiani), the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was approved by the Assembly with 47 votes for it. The next step is a concurrence vote by the Senate, and then the bill would head to Governor Brown.

Authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, SB 1150 provides critical protections for widowed spouses and other survivors including domestic partners, heirs, siblings, joint tenants, and other people who own their homes but who weren’t listed on the mortgage. SBOR closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide important protections to surviving homeowners (against foreclosure) that are available to other homeowners.

“We thank the housing counselors and legal aid attorneys who first raised the alarm about this problem, and who have been on the front lines, helping surviving homeowners to try and navigate these Kafkaesque bank bureaucracies. We also appreciate the courage shown by surviving homeowners like Ric Hornor and Blanche Robles who testified about the countless obstacles they (and too many other Californians) faced in trying to retain their homes, and we’re grateful to the more than sixty organizations that supported SB 1150. We urge the senate to approve SB 1150 and Governor Brown to sign it into law to prevent any more California seniors from losing their homes” explains Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB1150.

“The assembly approval of SB 1150 is an important step forward in California leading the nation when it comes to protecting homeowners from unscrupulous foreclosure practices. SB 1150 is a pragmatic way to stop widows, widowers, and other heirs from needlessly losing their homes to foreclosure and we hope Governor Brown signs it quickly” comments Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

“We’re glad to see that people still matter in Sacramento. CARA members met with many of our elected officials during the past six months.  When we explained the problem of widow foreclosures, most agreed that SB 1150 was a common-sense solution to protecting senior homeowners. Governor Brown turned 78 years old in April, so we think he’ll appreciate the protections included in this bill for senior homeowners. And, we’d encourage him to join CARA when his term expires in 2018” adds Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance of Retired Americans, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

Broad Support: SB 1150 is co-sponsored by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). SB 1150 is supported by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and over 60 well-known organizations, including AARP California, Courage Campaign, CalPIRG, the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, the National Council of La Raza, National Housing Law Project, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, and more. To see a full list of supporters, visit www.survivorbillofrights.org.

White Paper: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates released a white paper focused on this issue. The paper (Whose Home Is It Anyways?) explains how women are far more likely to be impacted by this issue; that these needless foreclosures wipe out the main asset most Americans (especially older Americans) own; that older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place;” and that banks are actively lobbying against these important protections. The paper is available for free download here: Whose Home Is It Anyway? How The Modern Mortgage Servicing Industry Strips Wealth From Low and Moderate Income Communities In the U.S. And California 

We need YOUR phone calls to stop widow foreclosures

Senate Bill 1150

 

Supporters of SB 1150: We NEED your phone calls  (ASAP) to these assemblymembers, asking them to vote YES on SB1150 to prevent more “widow foreclosures” on seniors in California.  If you can’t speak to somebody, please try to leave a message.  If you have any questions, please contact CRC: 415-8764-3980.
Priorities: Please call these assemblymembers first:
Cheryl Brown: Phone: (916) 319-2047
Nora Campos: Phone: (916) 319-2027
Ken Cooley: Phone: (916) 319-2008
Jim Cooper: Phone: (916) 319-2009
Tom Daly: Phone: (916) 319-2069
Bill Dodd: Phone: (916) 319-2004
Jose Medina: Phone: (916) 319-2061
Patrick O’Donnell: Phone: (916) 319-2070
Das Williams: Phone: (916) 319-2037
And if you have more time, please also contact these four assemblymembers:
Mike Gipson: Phone: (916) 319-2064
Jim Wood: Phone: (916) 319-2002
Jim Frazier: Phone: (916) 319-2011
Rudy Salas: Phone: (916) 319-2032

California Housing Advocates Respond to CFPB’s Final Mortgage Servicing Rules

 WIDOWED HOMEOWNERS WILL BENEFIT, BUT SENATE BILL 1150 IS STILL NECESSARY

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released its final mortgage servicing rule last week, with stronger protections to prevent unnecessary foreclosures on successors-in-interest, more commonly known as “widow foreclosures” or “red-tape foreclosures.”

Kevin Stein from the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and Maeve Elise Brown from Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) issued these statements in response to the CFPB’s rules:

“We are glad to see the CFPB issue its much anticipated final rule on mortgage servicing, which clarifies the obligations that mortgage servicers have to work with successors in interest (widows, orphans and similar heirs). As expected, the rule acknowledges that these successors are confronting a variety of hurdles when trying to work with their mortgage servicer to keep their family home,” explains Stein. “To address this problem, the Bureau’s new rule provides confirmed successors the same rights as all borrowers which is positive. At the same time, it was concerning to see the Bureau chose not to include an accountability mechanism (like a private right of action) to ensure the servicers would follow the new rules. And, these new rules won’t take effect until early 2018.”

Brown adds: “Fortunately, pending state legislation, Senate Bill 1150 (Leno, Galgiani), includes a private right of action for California successors to ensure that mortgage servicers are held accountable for following the rules. We learned from the Homeowner Bill of Rights that including this mechanism created accountability and forced mortgage servicers and banks to clean up their acts and stop illegal foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150 would do the same thing for the most vulnerable homeowners in California.” She adds: “The CFPB’s new rules, coupled with SB1150, would go a long way towards leveling the playing field and helping to preserve the largest asset most Americans will ever own.”

Additional Context:

Broad Support: SB 1150 is co-sponsored by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), and the California Association for Retired Americans (CARA). SB 1150 is supported by California Attorney General Kamala Harris and over 60 well-known organizations, including AARP California, California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Courage Campaign, CalPIRG, the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, the National Council of La Raza, the National Housing Law Project, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, and more. To see a full list of supporters, visit www.survivorbillofrights.org.

Research on Problems faced by successors in interest:

The California Reinvestment Coalition and Housing and Economic Rights Advocates submitted an in-depth legal analysis of the problem and case studies of homeowners in California experiencing these problems to the CFPB, OCC, and Federal Reserve in 2012.

In a 2014 survey of California housing counselors and Legal Aid attorneys, 87% of respondents said the “widows issue” was still a problem, despite federal guidance to mortgage servicers about working with successors in interest to prevent this problem.

A 2016 white paper by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates gives additional context to this problem and the problems it can trigger for older Americans who want to age in place and whose home is their largest asset. Download the paper here: Whose Home Is It Anyway? How The Modern Mortgage Servicing Industry Strips Wealth From Low and Moderate Income Communities In the U.S. And California