Important Protections For Widowed Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

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The largest asset most Americans have.

The California Reinvestment Coalition has been contacted by a number of homeowners and heirs who are struggling to understand what their rights are when working with their mortgage servicers- especially in cases where the borrower who is on the mortgage has passed away.

As of January 1, 2017, a new law went into effect in California which will be very helpful for families who may be facing unnecessary foreclosures because their servicers are refusing to speak with them.  The law is called the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights, and you can learn more about it on this website.

If you are a homeowner or heir trying to speak with your bank or mortgage servicer and they are refusing to speak with them, you may ask if they’re aware of the new law- and the requirements under it.

If you are still hitting a brick wall when trying to speak with your bank or servicer, please give CRC a call and we’ll connect you with experts in your area.

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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 

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

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?

 

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