Just saw this essay by California's Attorney General about the Homeowners' Bill of Rights, one of the most important pieces of progressive legislation being considered anywhere in the country currently and which will be voted on Monday in Sacramento.
Support rights of California homeowners
As California attorney general, I have traveled the state to see how the mortgage crisis continues to impact California families. I have visited neighborhoods where empty homes are magnets for criminal activity. I have heard the stories of responsible homeowners who lost their family homes - who lost their piece of the American Dream.
For far too long, too many California homeowners have been ensnarled in a long and painful nightmare. Here in San Bernardino County, there were more than 102,000 foreclosures between 2008 and 2011. That translates to 1 out of every 7 homes.
We are now at a crossroads.
According to recent estimates, there are as many as 700,000 California households in the "foreclosure pipeline" today - many of them in San Bernardino County. What these homeowners will tell you is that they need relief now.
In particular, they need the flaws in this system to be fixed, such as dual tracking - the dysfunctional practice in which a bank forecloses while the homeowner is negotiating in good faith for a loan modification.
Struggling homeowners also describe another experience that I have heard countless times: They'll call their banks, only to be connected to a different person each time and someone who is unfamiliar with their situation and doesn't have their paperwork. They're continually forced to re-explain their situation and submit, often by fax machine, the same mountain of paperwork.
The solution is the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which will end dual tracking and give homeowners a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes - a person at the bank who knows the facts of their case, has their paperwork and can get them a decision about their application.
This week, we took a step in the right direction. Key elements of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights passed out of a legislative conference committee. The next step comes on Monday, when the full Legislature is set to vote on its passage - and it is my hope we'll do what is right.
The national mortgage settlement we achieved last fall secured a commitment of up to $18 billion for California homeowners from the nation's five major banks. It was an important first step. But the protections of that agreement apply only to Californians whose home loans are handled by one of those five banks. The same common-sense protections should apply across the board, which is why we need the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.
I encourage every Californian to reach out to their legislators and urge them to make sure we pass the California Homeowner Bill of Rights. This is not a partisan issue. This is a basic issue of fairness - and one that requires action now.
It's now or never, Californians.
The Attorney General's website also has an interesting "slide show" presentation about the HBoR. Some facts from the slide show:
- Over 1.2 million Californians have lost their homes to foreclosure since 2008.
- Stockton, CA, has the highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Twelve of the twenty cities with the highest foreclosure rates in the United States are in California.
- In California, there are about 500,000 homes in the foreclosure pipeline.
- In California, Latino families are 22% more likely to be at imminent risk of foreclosure.
It's now or never, Californians.
HBoR Makes it Out of Committee.