By Dave Welsh
October 4, 2011
Pittsburg, Calif. – Homeowners from five counties packed the courtroom here Sept. 2 to support a Pittsburg family facing eviction in a foreclosure scam.
After a four-hour marathon session, the Superior Court judge cancelled the eviction. The decision means the Parra-Gullo family can stay in their home with a payment they can afford.
“I believe it was a victory for the family in this case,” said Delia Aguilar, an organizer with the Bay Area Moratorium (BAM), a homeowners group that is fighting wrongful foreclosures and evictions. “I believe the community had a lot of impact, that they came out here to support the family, often from long distances.”
BAM organized 44 people to back up the family in court, coming from Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Sacramento and Solano counties – areas hard hit by an epidemic of foreclosure fraud and chicanery by the banks and real estate companies.
The company seeking to evict the family, Antrea Investments & Trading LLC, fraudulently claimed to have lawfully bought the property from Wachovia/Wells Fargo Bank after the homeowners failed to make mortgage payments. However, BAM pointed out: 1) the homeowner was not in default, having made regular payments which the bank accepted; 2) Antrea was not registered with the state to do business in California; 3) a bogus “robo-signing” document was used to try to evict the family; and 4) there was no “assignment of deed of trust” with the county recorder.
Antrea’s attorney Terry Brewer’s jaw dropped when she saw all the supporters filing into the courtroom, exclaiming: “They bring so many people!” Delia Aguilar concluded that “if all the homeowners will come out, like today, then these courts and sheriffs may be more careful in issuing orders that can result in an illegal eviction.”
Aguilar explained that it’s become standard procedure for real estate companies and their eviction attorneys to “move quickly to take the homes from these homeowners, harassing and scaring them, using guerrilla tactics like threatening to get the sheriff to remove them in four hours.
“Sometimes these real estate people will call in law enforcement even before filing an ‘unlawful detainer’ action – as if it was their own personal police force!”
“But if we all stay together,” she added, “we can defeat them and keep our homes.”
BAM is part of a network of groups working for a moratorium to stop foreclosures and evictions and allow people to stay in their homes. The Michigan-based Moratorium NOW! Coalition explains the situation:
“Today the federal government, through its takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with the Federal Housing Authority, owns at least 75 percent of all mortgage loans. However, rather than utilizing this federal takeover of the housing market to benefit homeowners and renters, the federal government is continuing to bail out the banks, paying the banks full value for the fraudulent and predatory loans which they created, and then throwing millions of homeowners into the streets.
“It’s time for the federal government to bail out the people and not the banks. President Obama should immediately declare a two-year moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions, during which time the loans could be renegotiated to their real value, with the banks eating the losses for the fraud they practiced. Rather than selling off government owned housing to investors and sharks, the government should train our youth to rebuild these homes and reoccupy them with the millions of homeless and unemployed.”
Dave Welsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foreclosures have cost Oakland over $12 billion, San Francisco almost $7 billion
The foreclosure crisis is costing Oakland over $12 billion and San Francisco nearly $7 billion according to anew report for Oakland and another for San Francisco released by a statewide coalition of homeowners, community leaders and students. This is the first report to bring to light the full impact of the costs of Wall Street foreclosures in the Bay Area, with detailed numbers for individual neighborhoods, including Havenscourt in East Oakland and Bayview Hunters Point in San Francisco, which have disproportionately suffered from the foreclosure crisis. The report shows:
• Foreclosures harm all homeowners: Overall, homeowners are estimated to lose $12.3 billion in home values in Oakland and $6.9 billion in San Francisco as a direct result of the foreclosure crisis.
• Foreclosures erode the property tax base and impact services for all: Property tax revenue losses are estimated to be $75.3 million Oakland and $42 million in San Francisco in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.
• Foreclosures cost local governments: The typical foreclosure costs local governments more than $19,229 for increased costs of safety inspections, police and fire calls, and trash removal, and maintenance. In Oakland, these costs are estimated to be $224 million and in San Francisco, $73.4 million.
“This report proves what people in California have been feeling for years – banks are financially devastating to our neighborhoods and cities,” said Curtis Warren, a Bayview resident at the brink of losing his home and a member of ACCE, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
The report offers the latest evidence that fixing the housing crisis is central to fixing the economy. Data from the report shows:
• Fixing the underwater crisis by writing down mortgages would save California homeowners $810 every month and pump $20 billion annually into local economy.
• With the extra $810 per month, homeowners could start spending again, making purchases they have been putting off. The increase in consumer demand would in turn help spur 300,000 jobs in California.
• Oakland has 26,479 homeowners underwater by $2.4 billion, and San Francisco has 16,355 homeowners underwater by $1.5 billion. If banks wrote down those mortgages, it could pump $257 million in Oakland and $158 million in San Francisco into local economy and spur a total for both cities of 6,153 jobs.
Wall Street banks crashed the economy, are destroying local communities and are wrecking state budgets in California and across the country. Today, California homeowners are still overpaying for their mortgages, students are getting hit with a new fee hike, and families pay millions in overdraft fees because of the mess created by the banks, which are back to record profits and bonuses. The goals of the Refund and Reinvest in our Communities campaign are to:
1. Fix the economy by fixing the housing crisis through enacting a widespread mortgage principal reduction program, creating 300,000 California Jobs and injecting over $20 billion into the economy.
2. Restore needed state revenue by making Wall Street banks pay their fair share of taxes and closing tax loopholes exploited by rich corporations.
3. Rebuild California neighborhoods by helping homeowners and restoring revenue to local communities by penalizing banks for foreclosures and blight, renegotiating costly interest-rate swap deals and winning court-based mediation for homeowners.
California residents who want to join the campaign or get more information can call (877) 633-9251 or visit www.MakeBanksPayCalifornia.com.