Contrary to popular belief, the foreclosure crisis was brought on by the unemployment crisis coupled with unscrupulous banks that sold many people inflated subprime mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages.
And now it’s become obvious that not only were interest rates inflated, but so was the principal. The prices of most folks’ houses were simply over-inflated to begin with, which has resulted in the present crisis of people being upside down with their home mortgages.
So let’s be clear: The American people have been ripped off and then shamed into being silent about the robbery. Too many folks have given in to this robbery. I say don’t let pride and shame get in your way — stand up and fight back.
If you are in foreclosure already or seeking to renegotiate your loan, you don’t have to leave or abandon your home. You can fight back.
Too many people across the country have allowed the banks to rip them off. Here in Minneapolis, too many of our neighbors are going through foreclosure or renegotiating on their own or throwing their hands up.
But there is help available. The Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) has helped many struggling in the early stages of foreclosure. Occupy Homes and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (612-460-STAY) have stood with homeowners as well.
It was Occupy Homes that stood with South Minneapolis resident Bobby Hull, and as a result the holder of his mortgage, Bank of America, renegotiated. Hull will be staying in his home.
Presently North Minneapolis resident Monique White is being aided by Occupy Homes in her attempt to get the holder of her loan to modify it and enable her to stay in her house. Monique had run into financial difficulty as a result of being laid off her job. She is working now and simply wants to renegotiate with the holder of her loan, which in this case involves both US Bank and Freddie Mac.
But Monique was given the runaround when she applied for a loan modification. In fact, her paperwork was supposedly lost while the bank actually stopped communicating with her and proceeded to foreclose on her without her knowledge.
Banks all over the country have been guilty of this ploy. In fact, Bank of America was just sued because it prevented homeowners from obtaining mortgage loan modifications under the federal program designed to allow homeowners to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage.
According to the complaint, “The bank and its agents routinely pretended to have lost homeowners’ documents, failed to credit payments during trial modifications, and intentionally misled homeowners about their eligibility for the program.”
In fact, Bank of America has reached a $25 billion settlement with the government for not only failing to allow homeowners access to the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), but for also inflating appraisals used for government-insured home loans.
Ironically, Bank of America, like the other lending institutions, was actually given federal monies to administer the HAMP program and previous programs like it while in practice denying homeowners access to the program. In the case of Bank of America, the company apparently approved a few homeowners to avoid suspicion but denied the vast majority, resulting in fraud.
Incidentally, fraud or defrauding the federal government is a crime! Us regular folks should not only demand that the lenders work with everyone to keep their homes, but also demand that these criminals be locked up.
The foreclosure crisis has exposed the basic unfairness of how housing prices have been assessed as well as the greed of the banks and other lending institutions. It also gives us regular folks an opportunity to demand fairness in housing. And that includes the price of the house and the lender’s percentage rate.
The fact that many banks are lending at three percent interest lets us all know that the seven percent and higher rates that many borrowed under years ago were inflated and that the banks charged these exorbitant rates because they could.
It’s time we stand with our neighbors who are affected by this crisis. Tell them they have no need to be ashamed or embarrassed — this crisis has touched the best of us.
It’s time we stand up for ourselves and our neighbors and demand fairness in housing. It’s time we demand fairer housing prices minus the immoral inflation and minus the immoral interest rate. If the federal government can bail out the banks with our tax dollars, surely they can spend a little to bail us out.
After all, it’s our money.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.