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
Street Roots attended a civil rights forum Friday afternoon put on by Attorney General John Kroger’s office. Kroger spoke for more than 30 minutes to a group of who’s who among community leaders and organizers from Portland and around the region. Kroger spoke about the mission and goals of a new civil rights unit created under the umbrella of the Oregon Department of Justice and how to engage his office.
According to Kroger, the goals of the new civil rights unit moving forward will focus on investigating and filing civil or criminal actions to stop and deter unlawful conduct targeting protected and vulnerable populations in Oregon, work with law enforcement, public agencies and private entities to identify patterns of discriminatory conduct targeting groups, and work with state agencies to insure compliance with civil rights requirements.
Kroger then opened up the forum for questions and answers— telling the group that “the new civil rights unit will be taking small steps.” He also said that if organizations work with individuals, or a group of people that are being discriminated against, “we want your cases.”
Lastly, Kroger and the group talked for nearly 15-minutes about the Aaron Cambell case before heading over to the Park Blocks to address a crowd of protesters who had gathered at Pioneer and marched to Portland State University to listen to speakers, including Kroger.
Posted by Israel Bayer
According to the Oregonian, Attorney General John Kroger announced today that the Oregon Department of Justice has been awarded a $1.9 million stimulus grant by the federal Office on Violence Against Women.
The grant’s purposes are to provide funds to nonprofits so they can hire new staff or keep hired victim service workers, and to fund efforts by local law enforcement agencies and courts to prosecute those who commit violence against women. The job creation element aligns with one of the key objectives of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Given recent patterns of violence and sexual assault against women on Portland’s streets (see Street Roots’ “Sending Out an S.O.S” for in-depth coverage), news of the federal funding should come as a timely relief to local agencies working to combat violence against women.
The Department of Justice will decide how to use the funds based on the requests it receives from agencies who apply for the grant funding. For more information on the application process and to apply, visithttp://www.doj.state.or.us/about/grants.shtml.
Posted by Rebecca Robinson