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 

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