California Legislature Moves One Step Closer to Passing Protections for Widowed Homeowners

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

San Francisco, CA June 30, 2016– Earlier this week, California’s legislature moved one step closer to enacting legislation designed to protect widows, widowers, and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150, the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a 7 to 3 vote Tuesday. The next step is a vote by the entire Assembly, which is expected in August.

“Surviving homeowners deserve better than the status quo of needless foreclosures by banks and mortgage servicers. SB 1150 would create an even playing field for widows and widowers by improving communication and giving mortgage servicers clear guidelines to follow,” explains Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

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’ve been hearing complaints from nonprofit housing counselors, legal aid attorneys, and widowed homeowners about this problem for several years. Building on the landmark Homeowner Bill of Rights, this bill, if enacted, would be another example of California leading the way to protect homeowners,” adds Kevin Stein, associate director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

“The successful vote earlier this week signifies that issues still matter, and that people still matter,” said Nan Brasmer of California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), a co-sponsor of the bill. “We sincerely thank the Assembly Judiciary Committee members who stood up for seniors and other heirs by voting yes on Senate Bill 1150.”

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, 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: Earlier this week, 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

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