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

How SB 1150 Would Stop More Foreclosures On California Seniors and Heirs

Senate Bill 1150, authored by Senator Mark Leno and Senator Cathleen Galgiani, is intended to prevent additional, needless foreclosures on widows, widowers, and other heirs in California.

To better understand why SB 1150 is needed, consider the recent story of Jose Hernandez, a widower living in Sacramento, who is slated to lose the home he occupied with his late wife until she passed away in 2011:

Although he inherited the property when his wife died, Hernandez is not protected by California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights, a set of regulations that require lenders to work with homeowners to help them save their homes from foreclosure. He’s not protected because his name was not on the loan or title.

Instead, Hernandez said he’s been lost in the lender’s maze of paperwork and people.

“I must have faxed the death certificate over a dozen times,” Hernandez said. “They said they couldn’t find it. In the end, they just want to foreclose on the property.”

Read the whole story here:

Leno bill would strengthen family heirs’ homeownership rights  (Melody GutierrezSan Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2016)

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.

If  you’d like to get involved, here’s how you can help:

  1. If you organization would like to be listed as a SUPPORTER of Senate Bill 1150, please contact Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition: kstein AT calreinvest.org.
  2. If you are a surviving homeowner and would be willing to share your story, please reach out to Sean Coffey, media manager at the California Reinvestment Coalition: scoffey AT calreinvest.org.
  3. Reach out to your assembly member, and ask them to support Senate Bill 1150.  A vote is expected on the bill in August.  You can find who your assembly member is here: Who is my California Assembly Member?

 

Law to Protect Widowed Homeowners: How You Can Help

SB 1150 stops bad foreclosures

Imagine losing your wife or husband, and then facing the prospect of losing your home because of bank and mortgage servicer bureaucracy.

New legislation, introduced in California, Senate Bill 1150, would put a stop to these “red tape foreclosures.”

The bill has already passed out of the Senate and the next stop is the Assembly Committee on Banking and Finance.

If you have 5 minutes, can you pick up the phone and let these elected officials know that you support SB 1150 and you think they should also support stopping unnecessary foreclosures on vulnerable California seniors?

Assembly Committee on Banking and Finance Committee Members

Matthew Dababneh (Chair) Dem – 45:  Call him at: (916) 319-2045
Travis Allen (Vice Chair) Rep – 72: Call him at: (916) 319-2072
Katcho Achadjian Rep – 35:  Call him at: (916) 319-2035
Susan A. BonillaDem – 14:  Call her at: (916) 319-2014
Cheryl R. BrownDem – 47:  Call her at: (916) 319-2047
Ed Chau Dem – 49:  Call him at: (916) 319-2049
Mike Gatto Dem – 43: Call him at: (916) 319-2043
David Hadley Rep – 66: Call him at: (916) 319-2066
Young O. Kim Rep – 65: Call her at:  (916) 319-2065
Evan Low- Dem – 28: Call him at: (916) 319-2028
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas Dem – 54 Call him at: (916) 319-2054
Mark Stone Dem – 29: Call him at: (916) 319-2029

 

Widowed Homeowners a Step Closer to Avoiding “Red Tape Foreclosures”

Senate Bill 1150

Last Tuesday, the California Senate voted Senate Bill 1150, the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (Los Angeles Times: Bill aimed at helping widows avoid foreclosure passes state Senate) forward. This means that widows, widowers, and other heirs are one step closer to avoiding what’s been called the “bureaucratic black hole,” when their loved ones pass away and they were the only ones listed on a mortgage.

Housing counselors, attorneys, and consumer advocates have been trying to address this problem for several years now, but banks and mortgage servicers have refused to follow new guidance from regulators on this issue.

In the most common scenario, a husband passes away, and his name was the only one on the mortgage.  When she contacts her mortgage servicer, she will likely face a mind-numbing bureaucracy of incorrect information, being passed back and forth between different departments, and delays lasting months or even years.  Incredibly, in a number of cases, surviving homeowners have been told they can’t talk to the bank until their deceased loved one signs a form authorizing them to do so.

Meanwhile, the foreclosure process is moving forward. Surviving heirs, numb from the loss of their loved ones, are also faced with the prospect of losing the home over their heads.

These survivor have an ownership interest in their home, yet the banks and servicers are engaging in the same practices that caused the California legislature (with strong support from Attorney General Kamala Harris) to pass the Homeowner Bill of Rights.

The next step for the bill is the Assembly Banking Committee.  We anticipate that the bank lobbyists will be working hard to maintain the status quo, so if you’re interested in helping to disrupt that status quo, please contact us.

 

How YOU can Help Protect Surviving Homeowners!

Can you contact your senator and ask them to support Senate Bill 1150?

It will take you five minutes, but could make a world of difference for a surviving homeowner who would be better protected from mortgage servicer bureaucracy and unnecessary foreclosure if SB 1150 is enacted. SB 1150 has already passed out of the Senate Banking and Senate Judiciary Committees. The next step is a vote on the full Senate floor, which we expect will happen next week.

We are especially focused on contacting these seven senators to let them know about the problem, how SB 1150 would fix it, and to ask for their support. So please pick up the phone and give them a phone call.

    1. Your senator: If you’re not sure who your senator is, please use this website.
    2. Senator Roth (Riverside) – (916) 651-4031
    3. Senator Mendoza (LA, OC) – (916) 651-4032
    4. Senator Hertzberg (Van Nuys) – (916) 651-4018
    5. Senator Hernandez (San Gabriel Valley) – (916) 651-4022
    6. Senator Allen (Westside, Hollywood, South Bay LA) – (916) 651-4026
    7. Senator Wolk (Parts of Contra Costa, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Sacramento counties): 916-651-4003
    8. Senator Leyva (San Bernardino, Pomona): (916) 651-4020

 

Also, if you’re active on social media, please consider tweeting a message of support as well.  We’re including a few sample tweets below that you can copy/paste. If you know that your senator is on Twitter, please add them to your tweet:

 

#SB1150 is a smart fix to address time-consuming bureaucracy that surviving homeowners currently face:https://survivorbillofrights.org/  #CaLeg

 

#CaLeg has opportunity to protect widow and widower homeowners from unnecessary foreclosures with #SB1150: https://survivorbillofrights.org/who-is-supporting-sb-1150-survivor-bill-of-rights/

 

After losing a spouse, surviving homeowners shouldn’t ALSO lose their homes unnecessarily. #SB1150 would stop “red tape foreclosures” #CaLeg 

 

Thanks for your support!  
The SB 1150 team (California Reinvestment Coalition, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, and California Association of Retired Americans)

Widow Shares Her Story About Why She’s Supporting SB 1150

Senate Bill 1150 (Leno-Galgiani) is legislation that was introduced to address what has been called the “bureaucratic black hole” that widows, widowers, and other heirs are facing when trying to contact their mortgage servicers after the death of a loved one who was the only person listed on a mortgage.

Jimi “Angie” Depew is a homeowner in Eureka, California who experienced this problem first hand with her mortgage servicer, Citi.

After nearly two years of working to keep her home (along with assistance from an attorney at Legal Services of Northern California), she remarked in a letter to Senator Leno:

“While I am relieved that this ordeal is now over and I am no longer at risk of losing my home, I cannot begin to explain the level of confusion, frustration and stress I felt over the nearly two years I was attempting to work with Citi. I have no doubt that without the help of an attorney I would not have made it through this very difficult process and I would have lost my home in foreclosure.”

You can read her full letter to Senator Leno here.

If you’d like to get in touch with CRC about Senate Bill 1150, please visit our “Contact Us” page.