Fannie, Freddie to Forgive Mortgage Debt?

By Richard Davies
@daviesabc
Apr 11, 2012 8:01am

Another big push to help troubled homeowners may be in the works. The acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency has softened his stand against allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce mortgage debt for struggling borrowers. Edward DeMarco says his agency is considering whether this change would lower losses by Fannie and Freddie and help stabilize home prices. Taxpayers have already spent $170 billion to bail out the mortgage giants. Principal forgiveness could be offered to 700,000 borrowers at risk of foreclosure. In a CSPAN interview last week, President Obama’s Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan said he believes there is a “compelling” case for principal forgiveness.

Is it merely a correction or a true change of direction? Stocks have been in their biggest losing slide of the year. But the worst might be over.

European stock averages rose this morning. US stock futures were up after five straight days of losses. Both the Dow Jones Index and S&P 500 lost more than 4 percent in value over the past week. The real trigger was last Friday’s relatively weak US jobs report. Then came fresh concern about the weak state of Spain’s economy and debt problems.

Italy’s borrowing costs on short term debt more than doubled in today’s bond auctions. The interest rate demanded by investors for 1 year bonds rose to 2.84 percent from 1.4 percent last month.

Earnings season began with Alcoa reporting a sharp drop in profits. But its first-quarter report still came in stronger than analysts expected. Alcoa sales rose with a rise in demand from car makers, commercial transportation and aerospace companies.

Big oil benefits from high crude prices. Chevron says the price bump will help push first-quarter profits higher than the prior quarter. Chevron also benefited from higher refining profit margins, lower operating costs, and gains from selling assets.

When Brian Dunn quit abruptly as CEO of Best Buy it appeared to be related to the firm’s crumbling business model as a big-box retailer. Now a statement says Dunn resigned as the company looks into his personal conduct. It’s not clear what this involves.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

Fannie, Freddie to Forgive Mortgage Debt? – ABC News.

Brad Gana’s Texas Home, Destroyed By Hurricane Ike, Faces Foreclosure

The Huffington Post
Harry Bradford
First Posted: 10/31/11 07:01 PM ET
Updated: 10/31/11 11:22 PM ET

Even those that continue to make payments on a house that no longer exists aren’t immune to foreclosure.

Brad Gana, of Seabrook, Texas is being threatened with foreclosure over a home that hasn’t existed since it was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008, local Houston 2 News reports. Furthermore, after the hurricane, which cost the Texas shoreline an estimated $11 billion in damages, reduced the property to an empty slab of concrete, Gana alleges he continued to make payments.

In the meantime, Bank of America, the mortgage lender, took out a forced homeowner’s policy on the property and raised monthly payments. Gana, however, says he was never notified of the change since his mailbox was destroyed by what’s come to be known as the third-most destructive hurricane ever to hit the United States.

The story is only latest public relations mix-up for the company that recently lost its status as the largest bank in the country. It was reported earlier this month that one family, also living in the Houston area, faces foreclosure due to an untransferred title and in spite of making payments on time.

In another case, Bank of America foreclosed on an elderly couple in Pasco County, Florida, in part because they made a payment too early.

But it’s not just foreclosures that has people angry at the bank. BofA made a $6.2 billion profit last quarter, after announcing in September that it would start charging customers a $5 fee to use debit cards next year.

The consequent backlash, led in part by the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been so widespread that the bank is among those reconsidering its position on the idea, CNN Money reports.

Despite repeated stories of allegedly wrongful foreclosures, it appears not everybody is so sympathetic to the affected homeowners. A New York Times op-ed by Joe Nocera, published last week, detailed an office Halloween party from last year at a “foreclosure mill” firm in which employees mockingly dressed as foreclosure victims. A section of the office also appears decorated as a row of foreclosed homes.

As for Gana, he says he can’t understand why a bank would take out a homeowner’s policy on a house that’s no longer there, then threaten the homeowner with foreclosure.

“I was shocked when they said they were foreclosing on it,” he told Houston 2 News. “Bank of America is ruthless in their incompetency.”

via Brad Gana's Texas Home, Destroyed By Hurricane Ike, Faces Foreclosure [WATCH].

The Next Frontier for Occupy: Protesters Take Over Vacant Homes, Rally to Protect Those Facing Eviction and Foreclosure

AlterNet / By Tana Ganeva
December 6, 2011

Occupiers rallied with homeowners facing foreclosure or eviction, interrupted housing auctions, protested at banks, and took over vacant properties to move homeless families in.

On Tuesday occupiers all over the country took part in a day of action to do what politicians and the courts have repeatedly failed to: hold banks accountable for creating the housing crisis and then making it massively worse by rushing through millions of shady and illegal foreclosures.

In at least 20 cities, occupiers rallied with homeowners facing foreclosure or eviction, interrupted housing auctions, protested at banks, and took over vacant, unused properties to move homeless families in.

“The day of action marks a national kick-off for a new frontier for the occupy movement: the liberation of vacant bank-owned homes for those in need. The banks got bailed out, but our families are getting kicked out,” read a statement from occupiers and other groups involved in the New York action, including Organizing for Occupation and New York Communities for Change (NYCC). Other organizations such as Picture the Homeless and Take Back the Land also took part.

New York Occupiers gathered at an intersection in East Brooklyn, New York, a poverty-stricken, predominantly African-American area with a foreclosure rate five times the state average, occupiers repeatedly said. A crowd of about 100 swelled to roughly 600 as the march set off on a tour of foreclosed homes in the neighborhood, trooping past shuttered store fronts, empty lots, and deteriorating houses.

Pat Boone, former president of New York’s ACORN, who’s lived in East Brooklyn for 35 years, says she was devastated to see it start to resemble its dilapidated 1980s state, as empty, foreclosed homes fall apart around her. “The empty houses make the streets more dangerous. Businesses are closing,” she said. “People feel like there’s no support. What we want to do is stand with them, let them know they don’t have to give in to the banks’ illegal foreclosures.”

As the crowd wound through the streets and sidewalks, many neighborhood residents signaled that they stood with the marchers as well. A middle-aged black woman who had not previously heard of Occupy said she joined the march when it passed her house, said occupiers could come hang out at her home any time, and promised to feed them noodles. At one stop, in front of a yellow house with boarded-up windows, councilman Charles Barron told the marchers to turn and look behind them. Across the street at Thomas Jefferson High School, students at the windows waved, cheered, and shouted along as occupiers chanted, “We are the 99%!”

“Today we’re showing that we’re not backing away. Bloomberg, we’re doing what you should be doing,” declared a speaker through mic-check at one falling-apart vacant house. Marchers crisscrossed the door with yellow police tape that read “Occupy” and fastened a large yellow banner to the front, marking the house as “Occupied Real Estate.”

At the second to last house, several people on the verge of losing their homes shared their stories. (And one woman invited JP Morgan Chase’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, on a tour of the foreclosed homes in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Harlem.)

A slight man in a black hoodie stood shyly on the steps of the house, about to try out his first open mic, occupiers said. His story amplified by the hundreds of people echoing his words, Quincy said he owed $47,500, after getting his “deed stolen.” (Later, I talked with him, and he said that he’d sold the deed to a man who turned out to be a fraud.)

He was getting evicted that day. “Thank you. I hope you guys can help,” he concluded. “Let’s stand together and fight together.”

“We’re not going to let this young man lose his home!” A group of occupiers split off from the block party at the end of the main action to join Quincy in his home.

An older woman talked about learning about her son’s death in Iraq following a four-year tour there. She said she bought her home in 1997, but her monthly payments doubled from $1,500 to $3,000, and she fell behind despite the fact that she worked two jobs, as she had her whole life. “Now they’re trying to take my home away, ” she said. “How many families are like me?” before launching into the chant, “Don’t give up! Don’t give up!”

With that, the march set off to the final destination: a small split level that shared walls with the house next door. Instead of sitting empty, starting that night it would house Alfredo Carrasquillo, Tasha Robinson, and their two kids. The house, owned by Bank of America, had been vacant for three years, said OWS in a statement.

Occupiers had already been decorating: bunches of balloons sprung from the yard, the front of the house was papered with giant yellow signs declaring, “Foreclose on banks, not people!” A black-and-white photo of the family graced the front.

Council member Barron knocked on the door, and the family came out. “As an official representative of East New York, we welcome you to the neighborhood!” over cheers from the crowd. That message was underscored by the delivery of a Christmas tree, as well as the housewarming presents — plants, chairs — brought by marchers.

“I want you to know this is just the beginning,” said Carrasquillo, as his kids waved from the porch. Tasha Robinson, who appeared afterward, just said, “Thank you, everybody … I’m shy. I just want to say I love you all.”

Then the block party got rolling, courtesy of a marching band, while a cleaning crew of occupiers hurried inside to fix it up for the family before their first night there.

Other cities that saw actions include Atlanta, where protesters disrupted a house auction. In Los Angeles, occupiers and members of the community massed at the home of Ana Casas Wilson and her family of five to stop their eviction by Wells Fargo, reported Bloomberg News.

Minneapolis occupiers defended the home of Vietnam veteran Bobby Hull, who’d lived there since 1968. Minneapolis was one of the first occupations to focus on foreclosures, setting up camp in the home of Monique White to protect her from what she thought was an impending eviction.

What he learned from defending White’s property, says organizer Anthony Newbie, is that the media occupiers draw make banks think twice about rushing through evictions. The CEO of US Bank, Newbie points out, has tried to present himself as the “Golden Boy” of Wall Street and US Bank as clean of the mortgage mess. “We’ll hold his feet to the fire on that. If that’s your public position, what are you willing to do for these struggling homeowners?”

Monique White has not heard anything from US Bank, which she says is good news, certainly better news than an eviction notice.

“It’s an “aha!” moment,” says Newbie of the movement’s shift to occupying homes. “It makes perfect sense. We have so much pent-up rage, and this is a way to direct it in a really pointed, smart, calculated way that can effect some real bank reform. I think it’s incredible that it’s becoming a national movement.”

Matt Browner Hamlin, who helped organize the New York action and runs the website of Occupy Our Homes, says camping at homes has two giant advantages: it can shift the national conversation to affect long-term change and help actual people now. “Nonviolent, direct action has the power to inspire people, captivate attention. This is just another way we’re trying to change the conversation about what’s going on and help individual families.”

Tana Ganeva is AlterNet’s managing editor. Follow her on Twitter or email her at tana@alternet.org.

via The Next Frontier for Occupy: Protesters Take Over Vacant Homes, Rally to Protect Those Facing Eviction and Foreclosure | | AlterNet.

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