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You have a chance to keep a family in their home right now.

We've all heard the disturbing stories about big banks foreclosing on homes without notice, or without any justification.  The entire foreclosure system is an absolute mess, with several big banks like Bank of America halting foreclosure proceedings across the country.

Before this became a hot topic, I was here on Daily Kos back in 2009 talking about the urgent need for cramdown legislation. "Cramdown" (or judicial loan modification) is a type of procedure that empowers families and lets them restructure their mortgage so they can stay in their homes. In short, cramdown gives neutral judges the ability to step in and force big banks to negotiate with families who can make payments and stay in their homes.

Senator Dick Durbin has been a champion of cramdown legislation, but because Wall Street basically owns Washington, the issue has gained little traction.

Only now, with the flood of horror stories of families being abused by their mortgage lenders are people starting to wonder: could it happen to me? Could it happen to my friends or family members?

SEIU has developed an amazing tool that empowers YOU and lets you get better informed about your mortgage situation. is a free, quick, and easy tool that helps you demand disclosure from  your bank:

The Wall Street banks’ foreclosure system is a mess. Their total disregard for mortgage laws and standards is what created the foreclosure epidemic in the first place. Now, their total mismanagement is catching up to them. As of today, some of the largest mortgage lenders – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and GMAC (now called Ally) – have been forced to halt foreclosures in 23 states and growing. We can’t rely on Wall Street banks to follow basic rules. We have to hold them accountable. At very least, they must provide the mortgage notes.

I hope you'll use the tool if you have a mortgage, or share it widely with your friends and family.  

Look, we need more people like SEIU who are willing to take on the big Wall Street banks head on.  I know how standing up to those big banks can have a real, tangible impact on people's lives.

Here in Illinois, Wells Fargo tried to liquidate a century-old company, Hartmarx. For them, it was an asset that could be liquidated. For thousands of Illinoisans, it was a desperately-needed job.

So when Wells Fargo wanted to liquidate the company, I and other leaders in Illinois stood up to that big bank. As Illinois State Treasurer, I told them that if they wanted to take bailout money on the one hand and kill Illinois jobs with the other, they could forget about managing the state's portfolio.  

Wells Fargo relented, and those Illinois jobs were saved.

Sometimes, it feels like Wall Street behemoths like the big mortgage lenders or banks have grown too powerful to listen to the concerns of ordinary Americans who are struggling. But all it takes is for people to speak up, stand up, and demand action.

So if you have a moment, visit and spread it around on Facebook and Twitter.  You may just help a family stand up to Wall Street and stay in their home.

P.S.  If you want to learn more about how we saved jobs here in Illinois, watch this video about Hartmarx:

Originally posted to Alexi Giannoulias on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 08:05 AM PDT.

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