Tag Archives: foreclosures

Lenders bypass foreclosure mediation law

By Jake Thomas, Staff Writer

This spring, when the Oregon Legislature created a mediation program to help homeowners negotiate with lenders and avoid or modify foreclosures, there was hope that the new requirements would prompt lenders to cooperate more with homeowners to preserve their housing. But the high hopes of the Oregon Department of Justice, which oversees the new program, have given way to frustration.

Keith Dubanevich, associate attorney general, anticipated the new program would result in about a thousand modified mortgages a month. The number actually modified: zero.

The reality, Dubanevich said, is that the bill’s language gives the lender “the option to go to mediation or not.”

The law was passed following a landmark $25 billion settlement between 49 state attorneys general and the country’s five largest loan services over charges that these financial institutions routinely foreclosed on homeowners without the proper documentation. The agreement, concluded this past February, included provisions aimed at providing relief to homeowners rattled by the housing collapse. Continue reading

Homeowners facing foreclosure need accurate information

By Janet Byrd, Contributing Columnist

A stable place to call home gives people the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The thousands of Oregonians facing the uncertainty of foreclosure have new hope for stability because of recent legislative action.

One out of every five Oregon homeowners is “under water” and owes more on their home than it is worth. One out of 11 is either in default or is 30 days late on their mortgage payments.  These financial strains have repercussions throughout families and communities. Foreclosures are a drain on physical health, and the stress makes family life harder. Because owning a home plays such an important role in maintaining a household’s financial stability, foreclosures have impacts for many years on family opportunities and prospects, including education and employment. Communities are hurt by foreclosures as well — by vacant homes, a loss of community vitality, and decreased home values. The recent Street Roots cover story (“Boarded up,” May11) highlighted the problems caused if these vacant homes are not maintained. Continue reading

Commentary: What did the legislative session mean for Oregonians?

By Our Oregon

The February legislative sessions resulted in progress for Oregon families, showing hopeful glimpses of a return to support for middle class priorities.

Legislative leaders were able to prevent more cuts to public schools and senior services, but with split control of the House, many desperately needed bills were killed by House Republicans before they could even come up for a vote. Much was accomplished, but there is much more to do as Oregon’s economy recovers, including restoring the funds for our schools and critical services that were slashed in the recession.

Foreclosure Protections

Despite weeks of effort by Republican leaders in the House to kill two vital foreclosure protection reforms, the bills passed in the last few minutes of the session. This means that families facing foreclosure will have the right to meet with their banks to try to work out an agreement, and banks will no longer be able to proceed on a foreclosure while in the midst of a loan modification.

In short, these bills level the playing field between struggling families and big banks. It means the banks won’t be able to get away with many of the tricks and traps they’ve used for years.

This was a huge victory for the hundreds of Oregonians who stood up and spoke out, calling on Republican leaders to pass meaningful reforms. This broad public outcry came from every corner of the state, and it’s why GOP leaders were finally forced to side with Oregon families, rather than with lobbyists for the banking industry.

Kudos to Economic Fairness Oregon and other advocacy groups who worked hard during this session to make sure the needs of struggling families were met.

Education

In the last three years, around 15% of jobs in public schools have been lost. Another recent estimate shows a loss of 4,000 teachers statewide. At the same time, class sizes have increased by as much as 19%.

The good news is that legislators held the K12 budget at $5.725 billion for the 2011-13 budget cycle. In theory, at least, that means no further cuts to local schools.

But the budget is down from the 09-11 budget of $5.783, and significantly down from the 07-09 budget of $6.3 billion. And it’s $3 billion down from the funding required to meet the state’s own definition of a “quality education.”

Continue reading

An end to the madness?

by Joanne Zuhl, Staff Writer

For the tens of thousands of Oregonians and their families who have lost their homes in the past four years, the recent announcement of the national mortgage settlement is of small comfort compared to their loss. The 49-state settlement will stretch over three years, and divide the $25 billion pound of flesh from the five major lending institutions down to about $1,800 per victim in Oregon.

But for the tens of thousands who are in the pipeline of foreclosure today, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

In Salem, two bills are left alive that would give Oregon homeowners protection against the predatory lending practices that contributed to the housing crisis and the avalanche of foreclosures it caused. Championing that cause through the Senate committee process is State Sen. Chip Shields, D-North/Northeast Portland, who chairs the General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee.

Shields’ committee  cleared Senate Bills 1552 and 1564 that would install protections for consumers when they go to modify their loans to avoid foreclosure, and do away with the dual-track process that allowed banks to blindside homeowners with foreclosure even while they were in the process of modifying their loan. The measures echo the national mortgage settlement overview, the details of which are still unknown.

However, the bills survival is questionable, and reports as of yesterday (Feb 27) indicated they might not survive a vote. House Republicans snuffed four similar bills by denying hearings in the committee process. And there’s a Republican proposal to remove the dual-track violation from prosecution under the unfair trade practices act, an action that Shields says would water down the law, remove any remedy to victims and prevent the state attorney general from pursuing justice on an issue that now dominates concerns among his constituents.

Chip Shields: I’d say four years ago, 70 percent of my constituent case work was helping people who were having problems with government agencies, department of human services, etcetera. Now, 70 percent of our constituent work is people who are just complete at wits end about how inept, either on purpose or by accident, their lender or their mortgage company is. People in situations where they’re going along with the modification process in good faith, and then, wham, they get the notice right in the middle of it that the bank is foreclosing on them for no good reason — when they’ve been following the advice of the person on the other end of the phone. So it’s a huge problem, and we’re not just hearing from homeowners, we’re hearing from Realtors who are amazed at how poorly their clients are being treated. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

The weekend is almost here, and when it arrives, be ready for the new edition of Street Roots, rolling on the presses right now. It’s still only $1, and delivered by the finest vendors in town. Here’s what’s headed your way:

An end to the madness? A discussion with Sen. Chip Shields on his efforts to get foreclosure reform measures passed in Salem. It’s an uphill battle, but the difference could help Oregonians threatened by foreclosures today.

‘Unemployed need not apply’ ads targeted by state lawmakers: A bill in Salem would prohibit companies from advertising jobs that don’t allow the jobless to apply.

‘We’ll have to come together and do our best’: A discussion with City Commissioner Dan Saltzman about his work in office and the challenges ahead.

Amanda Fritz, Mary Nolan and $: The latest rundown on campaign fundraising by Janice Thompson with Common Cause.

All this, plus commentary by the Western Regional Advocacy Project, Planned Parenthood, OPAL and economist Robin Hahnel. And much more, including news, poetry and notes from readers who wrote in about their experiences with vendors. A fun read! So don’t forget to tuck a buck before you head out tomorrow and say hello to your friendly neighborhood Street Roots vendor! Thank you!

Housing activists in Hennepin County take over sheriff’s office over foreclosures

Posted by Israel Bayer