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 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 

Mortgage Servicers Still Unhelpful, Report Homeowners

Since the CFPB started accepting complaints,

it has received over 223,000 mortgage-related  complaints! 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s most recent monthly complaint report focused on mortgage complaints and on California.  According to the CFPB, it has “handled approximately 223,100 mortgage complaints since July 21, 2011, making mortgage the second most-complained-about product after debt collection, representing 26 percent of total complaints.”

The statistics from the report are troubling:

    • Fifty-one percent of complaints are related to loss mitigation: According to the CFPB: “consumers complained of prolonged loss mitigation review processes in which the same documentation was repeatedly requested by their servicer. Consumers also complained that they received conflicting and confusing foreclosure notifications during the loss mitigation review process.”
    • Loan servicing transfers still unclear for customers: This is a common problem that has been identified in multiple surveys the California Reinvestment Coalition has conducted with housing counselors and legal advocates.  You can see our most recent report here, or listen to an interview with an Oakland survivor homeowner, KaRynn Kelly, on NPR’s Morning Edition: Foreclosure Overhaul Comes Too Slowly For Many Homeowners
    • Communication is still a problem: Consumers complaints that when they were able to speak with their servicers, “the information they received was often confusing and did not provide the clarifications they were hoping for.”
    • Four companies who received most complaints: According to the CFPB, the four companies who received most mortgage-related complaints between Nov 2015 and Jan 2016 were Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Ocwen, and Nationstar.

Most complained about companies for California

The CFPB notes: “Company-level information should be considered in context of company size and/or market share in a given geographic area. In the February 2015 – January 2016 period, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Experian led the list of most-complained-about companies by California consumers. “

California CFPB complaints (As of April 2016)

You can read the full CFPB report here: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Monthly Complaint Report Vol. 10  (April 2016)