Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Technorati button
Reddit button
Myspace button
Linkedin button
Webonews button
Delicious button
Digg button
Flickr button
Stumbleupon button
Newsvine button

White Supremacist says foreclosure won’t stop Aryan Nations compound

PRIEST RIVER, Idaho — White Supremacist Shaun Winkler said he is not going to let foreclosure stop him from building a new Aryan Nation compound in Bonner County.

Winkler said he owes nearly $10,000 in back mortgage payments on his land in the Hoodoo Mountains. He purchased the 17 acres near Priest River in 2011, and the seller told KREM 2 News Winkler stopped paying his mortgage nearly a year ago.

The property is going into foreclosure and will be put up for auction January 14.

Winkler said he started running into financial problems last spring after running for Bonner County Sheriff. He said he lost his job because of his controversial beliefs

Winkler said he already has another piece of property lined up for a White Supremacist compound. He said a family who supported his run for sheriff is giving him several acres of land so he can invite families with ties to the KKK and Aryan nations to come and live there.

The new compound will used as a rally point, Winkler said. It will be located about one mile away from the acreage in foreclosure by the Hoodoo Mountains.

Winkler said people in the Priest River community seem to be more accepting of his beliefs than other towns in Idaho.

Article source: http://www.nwcn.com/home/?fId=181289461&fPath=/news/local&fDomain=10222

Foreclosure Wave Averted as Doomsayers Defied: Mortgages

Stockton, California, has the
highest U.S. foreclosure rate. It also has a housing shortage.

The number of homes for sale in the city fell 42 percent in
October from a year earlier. Listings routinely attract multiple
offers. Prices are on the rise.

When banks pulled back on foreclosures two years ago
following a government investigation into allegations of faulty
practices, market researchers, academics and Wall Street
analysts said that a surge of delinquent homes would deluge the
U.S. market once lenders resolved the claims and worked through
backlog, driving down prices for years to come. RealtyTrac Inc.,
a seller of property data, warned a year ago of a “new set of
incoming foreclosure waves.” Susan Wachter, professor at the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said in February
that a logjam may be “unleashed” and destabilize the market.

In fact, the flood failed to materialize, even after the
five biggest U.S. mortgage servicers reached a $25 billion
settlement with federal and state regulators in February.
Instead, the number of properties for sale shrank to the fewest
in a decade, prices appreciated at the fastest pace since 2005,
and the gradual healing of the housing market helped boost
consumer confidence and the economy.

“We don’t have enough homes now to meet the needs of the
market,” Paul Jacobson, a Stockton native and real estate
broker for 22 years, said as he cruised the city’s northern
fringe, where suburbia meets farmland. “People see a foreclosed
home for sale in this area and they’re going to jump on it.”

Bank Deals

Banks have stepped up foreclosure alternatives to avoid
legal challenges. They’re forgiving debt, modifying payment
plans and approving short sales that allow homeowners to sell
for less than they owe.

The federal government, criticized by consumer activists
for failing to prevent more than 4.7 million homes from being
lost to foreclosure or short sales since President Barack Obama
took office in January 2009, is also helping to stem the crisis.
Expanded loan-modification programs have gained traction, and
the Federal Reserve has kept bank interest rates near zero.
Investors including Blackstone Group LP (BX) and Colony Capital LLC
are purchasing thousands of foreclosed homes in bulk before they
even hit the market, further limiting new supply.

With the unemployment rate also coming down, concerns are
fading that a deluge in foreclosures will destabilize the
housing market as it recovers from a six-year slump.

‘Wrong’

“Many of us, myself included, feared a wave of
foreclosures when the settlement came,” Wachter, professor of
real estate and finance at Wharton in Philadelphia, said in a
telephone interview. “I was wrong.”

Slowing the foreclosure process has allowed banks to avoid
booking losses on non-performing loans, said Joshua Rosner, an
analyst with Graham Fisher Co. in New York. U.S. banks reduced
their net charge-off rate on mortgages to 0.77 percent in the
second quarter, the most recent available, from a high of 1.81
percent at the end of 2009, according to data Rosner compiled.
That drop occurred as the rate of non-current loans declined to
9.77 percent from 10.15 percent in late 2009.

“The goal all along — from the banks, the servicers and
the government — was sort of to slow walk the whole thing,
bleed it through over time,” Rosner said in a telephone
interview.

Prices Rise

The strategy may be paying off. Home prices in 20 U.S.
cities rose 3 percent in September from a year earlier, the most
since 2010, the SP/Case-Shiller index showed this week. The
median price of an existing home sold last month jumped 11
percent from a year earlier to $178,600, the steepest annual
increase since November 2005, according to the National
Association of Realtors. The number of previously owned homes on
the market in October fell 1.4 percent to 2.14 million, the
fewest since December 2002.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated that as many
as 1.8 million properties would be taken back by banks in 2012,
according to a January speech by President William Dudley.
Through October, there have been about 559,000 home seizures,
indicating a pace of about 650,000 for the year, according to
Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

The so-called shadow inventory of pending foreclosures,
which may be larger than the visible supply of previously owned
homes for sale, is shrinking as new defaults decline and banks
work through their backlog of bad loans. Home loans that were
more than 90 days late or in the foreclosure process, a proxy
for the shadow inventory, fell to 7.03 percent of properties
with a mortgage in the third quarter, the lowest share since
2008, the Mortgage Bankers Association said two weeks ago.

Managed Process

While lenders may bring more distressed properties to
market over the next year, it won’t be enough to depress values,
said Vishwanath Tirupattur, housing strategist at Morgan Stanley
in New York.

“I don’t anticipate a flood that will take the market down
with it,” he said in a telephone interview. “It will be a much
more managed process.”

The shadow inventory — which also includes properties
owned by banks but not for sale — fell from an estimated 8.8
million homes in 2010 to 5.36 million as of this month, a faster
decline than expected as fewer loan modifications re-defaulted,
according to Tirupattur.

Changes to Obama’s loan-modification program had the
biggest impact on reducing pending foreclosures since late 2010
by creating a template that lenders followed, Wachter said. That
included incentives to compensate loan servicers for reducing
principal on loans for delinquent borrowers. In January, the
administration tripled the award to 63 cents for every $1 in
writedowns.

‘Transformative Steps’

“The loan modifications were successful in this new
wave,” she said. “Transformative steps were being put into
place in the loan modification process. I underestimated how
transformative those reforms would be.”

An estimated 1 million homeowners qualify for payment-plan
changes with principal reductions under Obama’s guidelines,
according to Wachter. Assuming a redefault rate of 25 percent,
that would result in almost 750,000 sustainable modifications,
Wachter wrote with Mark Zandi, Celia Chen and Cristian deRitis
of Moody’s Analytics Inc. in a report published in May.

“Along with those that would take place in any event, this
is about the number needed to forestall any further house-price
declines,” they said.

Principal Forgiveness

Since the February settlement, the five largest U.S.
mortgage servicers completed modifications with $2.55 billion in
principal forgiveness for 21,833 borrowers, according to a Nov.
19 report by Joseph Smith, monitor of the deal. The companies,
which include Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase Co. (JPM),
agreed to short sales for 113,000 borrowers for another $13.1
billion in principal write downs, Smith’s report said.

The settlement helped stabilize prices, in part, by
encouraging alternatives to foreclosures, including principal
forgiveness and short sales, said Nela Richardson, senior
economic analyst with Bloomberg Government. Modified loans have
a high default rate and may eventually show up as foreclosures
or short sales, she said.

“In this sense, I think the shadow inventory is still
looming but it does not look like it will come out of the
shadows all at once,” Richardson said in an e-mail. “Rather,
properties will trickle out into the market.”

About 940,000 modifications will be completed this year,
including 100,000 resulting from the $25 billion mortgage
settlement, according to a Nov. 21 report by JPMorgan analysts
led by John Sim. The pace will fall next year to about 530,000
as the pool of eligible borrowers shrinks.

Short Sales

Short sales made up 9.3 percent of transactions in
September, up from 7.8 percent a year earlier and 5.8 percent in
September 2009, according to CoreLogic Inc., an Irvine,
California-based real estate data firm.

“The best, lasting legacy of the crisis is that the
industry has created a more nuanced approach to loss
disposition,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist of CoreLogic.
“I don’t think the idea of evaluating a delinquent borrower for
all different alternatives goes away after we’ve dealt with the
shadow inventory. I think that’s here to stay.”

In Stockton, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) east of San
Francisco by car, the foreclosure crisis is easing after a
plunge in home values that has left prices down 60 percent from
a 2006 peak. The city earlier this year became the largest in
the U.S. to file for bankruptcy protection from creditors after
the collapse of the housing market left it with mounting retiree
health-care costs for employees and an eroding tax base amid
accounting errors that overstated municipal revenues.

Highest Rate

One in 67 of Stockton’s households received a foreclosure
filing in the third quarter, the highest rate of any U.S.
metropolitan area with a population of more than 200,000,
according to RealtyTrac. The number of filings of default,
auction or repossession fell 21 percent from a year earlier.

William Hoeurn, a teacher’s assistant in Stockton, last
month won a $337,906 principal reduction on his mortgage from
Bank of America, reducing monthly payments on his three-bedroom
house to $884 from $2,362. Hoeurn fell behind on his loan
payments after his wife lost her job and two of his grown
children, who helped pay the mortgage, moved out of the home.

“Before, I was having bad dreams that I am losing my
house,” Hoeurn, 66, a refugee from Cambodia, said during an
interview in his kitchen. “Now, I feel very happy.”

The number of bank-owned homes listed for sale in Stockton
plunged 72 percent in September from a year earlier, according
to MetroList Services Inc., a Sacramento, California-based
listing information service. Short sale listings fell 63 percent
to 155 homes.

Prices Up

Re-sale prices rose 14.6 percent in the 12 months through
October to $179,570 in San Joaquin County, where Stockton is the
county seat, according to the California Association of
Realtors.

Peter Lemos, code enforcement field manager for Stockton’s
police department, said he suspects banks are delaying
foreclosures to reduce the supply of houses on sale and keep
prices higher.

“If they flooded the market, prices would go down,” Lemos
said during an interview in his office. “So they’re getting
more for what they’re selling. At the same time, it’s making
more work for us.”

Painting Lawns

There were 6,650 properties with unresolved code violations
as of Sept. 30, about two-thirds of which were vacant because
the owners walked away and banks hadn’t foreclosed, Lemos said.
His team stages night raids to oust squatters from abandoned
properties. To give the appearance homes are occupied, they
paint dry lawns green.

Rick Simon, a spokesman for Bank of America, and Tom Kelly,
a spokesman for JPMorgan, said they aren’t keeping foreclosed
properties off the market to boost prices or avoid booking
losses.

“Under servicing agreements and investor guidelines, we
generally are compelled to move defaulted loans through the
foreclosure process and bring them to market without undue
delays in order to curtail servicing costs and recover as much
of the investment for the owner of the loan as possible,” Simon
said in an e-mail.

The inventory of potential foreclosures remains a threat
across the U.S. and could result in a new wave of defaults and
depress home values, especially if the economy slows, said
Robert Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University.
Homeowners who owe more than their properties are worth are more
likely to default if they lose a job, need to move for
employment, or simply decide to walk away, he said.

‘Still Worried’

“I’m still worried about home price declines,” Shiller,
and co-creator of the SP/Case-Shiller home-price indexes, said
in a telephone interview. “It’s funny how people have so much
confidence in the recovery. History shows that these markets are
hard to predict.”

Delaying the process may also be hindering a faster
recovery, said Anthony B. Sanders, an economics professor at
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

“The best cure for any market meltdown is to let prices
fall to whatever level is needed to clear it,” he said.
“Instead, we’re sitting here in 2012 and we’re still not out of
the woods yet. The wisdom of delaying foreclosures etc. was more
of a political act than an economic act.”

Mortgages on homes seized by banks averaged a record 708
days delinquent in September, up from 624 days a year earlier,
according to Lender Processing Services Inc. (LPS) The U.S. average
was 367 days in December 2008, before Obama took office and
launched an alphabet soup of programs to help struggling
homeowners keep their residences.

Dual Tracking

The February mortgage settlement restricted lenders from
so-called “dual-tracking” — simultaneously pursuing a
foreclosure while borrowers were in the process of applying for
a loan modification — a limitation that prolongs the time it
takes lenders to repossess a house.

“In hindsight, by delaying and prolonging the foreclosure
process, that gave the market time to stabilize and get back on
its feet,” said Blomquist of RealtyTrac. “Maybe bureaucracy is
actually helping, in this case, to diffuse the impact of the
foreclosures. Talk about unintended consequences.”

Low interest rates engineered by the Federal Reserve
prevented a wave of defaults that would have been triggered by
resets for borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, said Karen Weaver, head of market strategy and research at Seer Capital
Management LP in New York.

“With very low interest rates, that’s been completely
finessed,” Weaver said in a telephone interview. “That’s
another reason we haven’t had the tsunami.”

Defying Skeptics

An Obama program begun in February allowing refinancing for
Americans with more than 125 percent negative equity also has
reduced incentives for underwater homeowners to abandon their
property. The higher threshold opens the door for about 5
million borrowers to refinance, according to CoreLogic.

More than 100,000 borrowers a month, most of whom have no
equity in their homes, have been able to get lower interest
rates through the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

“We were originally skeptical,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S.
economist for Capital Economics Ltd., wrote in a note sent last
week. “But we have to admit that it has made a significant
difference.”

The foreclosure slowdown took place as the broader economy
began to heal. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in
September, the lowest since Obama took office.

Household formations increased to an annual pace of 1.15
million in the third quarter, driving down the vacancy rate for
rental homes to its lowest rate since 2002, while the vacancy
rate for owner-occupied properties dropped to 1.9 percent, a
level last seen in 2005, according to the Census Bureau.

Investor Purchases

Homes that are seized by banks are attracting investors,
many of which aim to turn them into rentals. Private-equity
firms are raising as much as $8 billion to buy single-family
homes, often purchasing at auctions or directly from banks
before the properties are publicly listed for sale. New York-
based Blackstone, the world’s biggest private-equity firm. has
been buying $100 million of houses a week, Chairman Stephen
Schwarzman said during an Oct. 18 earnings call.

For those foreclosed properties that do hit the market,
investor purchases are rising. All-cash sales represented 29
percent of existing-home deals in October, according to the
National Association of Realtors. Investors, who account for
most cash sales, purchased 20 percent of homes in October, up
from 18 percent the previous month and a year earlier.

Phoenix Demand

Some hot markets are seeing even more demand. In Arizona’s
Maricopa County, home of Phoenix, investors accounted for a
third of home purchases, including those at auctions, said
Michael Orr, director of real estate research at Arizona State
University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Investors and other homebuyers are moving east toward
Stockton from the San Francisco Bay area, where the technology
industry has kept property values high, said Jerry Abbott,
president of Grupe Real Estate, a Stockton-based sales and
development company that has acquired more than 1,000 rental
homes since 2010.

“My guess is 50 percent of the active closings are
investors,” Abbott said in a telephone interview. “Everybody
and his uncle wants to get in at low prices.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles at
johngitt@bloomberg.net;
Prashant Gopal in Boston at
pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Kara Wetzel at
kwetzel@bloomberg.net;
Rob Urban at
robprag@bloomberg.net

Article source: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-29/foreclosure-wave-averted-as-doomsayers-defied-mortgages

Middlesex man admits role in fraudulant home-foreclosure rescue scheme – The Star-Ledger


Jason Grant/The Star-Ledger

By

Jason Grant/The Star-Ledger

The Star-Ledger

on November 28, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Brought to you by



Foreclosure Rates.JPG

A Middlesex County man today admitted in federal court that he helped run a phony home-foreclosure rescue scheme that included taking out $4.4 million in bogus mortgage loans, authorities said.



A Middlesex County man today admitted in federal court that he helped run a phony home-foreclosure rescue scheme that included taking out $4.4 million in bogus mortgage loans, authorities said.

In the end, authorities and court documents said, the scheme perpetrated by Frederick “Freddie” Grippo and his co-conspirator caused homeowners to lose their properties and financial institutions to lose money, even as the defendants pocketed a portion of the illegal loan proceeds.

The homeowners who fell victim to the fraud, authorities added, had properties throughout the metropolitan region, including in Rutherford, N.J., Monroe, N.J. and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Grippo, 32, of Old Bridge, pleaded guilty in Newark today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty. He faces up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million when he is sentenced March 6, authorities said. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said his office would not comment on whether the co-conspirator — who is referred to as “V.G.” in court documents — is being charged by federal officials in the alleged mortgage fraud and foreclosure-rescue scheme.

In late September, both Frederick Grippo and his father, Vito Grippo, 57, of Jackson, were charged in state court for their roles in a complicated fraud that appears to be the same fraud Frederick Grippo has now admitted to. The office of state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said at the time that both father and son were charged with allegedly promising to help homeowners facing foreclosure, only to sell their properties to unwitting investors and filing for $4.5 million in fake mortgage applications.

Chiesa’s office also said the scheme was run through Morgan Financial Equity Shares, a company allegedly operated by Vito Grippo. According to Chiesa’s office, Grippo would persuade struggling homeowners to transfer their house-deeds temporarily to his business in exchange for purported financial relief.

Frederick Grippo’s defense lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment this afternoon.

According to federal authorities, who cited both court documents and statements, Frederick Grippo’s co-conspirator, “V.G.,” was the president of Homdel-based Morgan Financial Equity Shares between January 2008 and February 2010.

Morgan Financial, federal authorities said, ran an “Equity Share Program” that created a limited liability company in the name of a homeowner’s house, such that the homeowner supposedly retained a 90 percent interest in the property, while one or two private investors controlled the rest.

But in reality, said authorities, the so-called “investors” invested nothing and were only “straw buyers.” Frederick Grippo and his associates would next make out falsified mortgage-loan applications in the names of the phony investors for the purchase of the distressed properties.

At the same time, authorities said, a struggling homeowner would come to a closing at Morgan Financial at which he would be given a stack of documents to sign that he thought would prevent foreclosure — but that actually transferred title to the investor.

Next, the loan would be submitted to Worldwide Financial Resources, company at which Frederick Grippo was a loan officer, and Frederick Grippo would make sure that the loan was approved, authorities said.

Once the loan was approved and the loan money was wired to the settlement agent for a given transaction, authorities added, Grippo’s coconspirator “V.G.” would direct the agent to forward a portion of the loan to bank accounts that “V.G.” controlled.

The mortgage-fraud scheme succeeded in obtaining $4.4 million in loans, authorities said.

More Middlesex County news

Related Stories


N.J. health department to decide which hospitals will perform non-emergency angioplasty


Monroe man pleads guilty to stabbing neighbor to death in her home

Article source: http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2012/11/middlesex_man_admits_he_ran_fr.html

Packard Plant Foreclosure: County Plans To Seize Vacant Detroit Factory With …

Foreclosure isn’t just a problem that affects struggling homeowners. Detroit’s sprawling, vacant and frequently ablaze Packard Plant will be foreclosed on by Wayne County, the Detroit Free Press reports, after owner Bioresource neglected to pay $750,000 in back taxes.

Dominic Cristini is the purported owner of Bioresource, which has claim to nearly all of the 3.5 million sq. ft. of the Packard complex on East Grand Boulevard. Though he’s battled in court for ownership in the past, at one point living in the plant in protest, Cristini may not fight the foreclosure.

“Do me a favor and knock the Packard down. I’m tired of it,” Cristini told Motor City Muckracker’s Steve Neavling. “I don’t want to get killed over that building.”

“The city can kiss my ass,” Cristini also told the news site, stating he doesn’t owe taxes since the city hadn’t provided services to protect the property.

The structure is full of asbestos and though often on fire, is too dangerous for firefighters to enter. The city has previously called for its demolition. In March, Cristini said he had begun the estimated $6 million process, though evidence was hard to come by.

The county is currently in the process of notifying owners of more than 42,000 properties that are set to move into foreclosure.

If the Packard were to complete the foreclosure process, ownership would revert to the public. Detroit would be hard-pressed to come up with millions for demolition, but according to the Free Press, the city believes the owner is responsible for demolition and doesn’t have current plans to do so because of the “prohibitive cost.”

Designed by architect Albert Kahn in the early 1900s, the plant served as the Packard Motor Car Company until it closed in the 1950′s, though other businesses used the building for decades after that. It’s also a draw for vandals, artists and urban spelunkers.

See photos of the plant below, from its heyday to the buildings’ current state of abandonment.

Loading Slideshow

  • Title: Boulevard view, Packard auto plant, Detroit, Mich.
    Related Names: Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher
    Date Created/Published: [between 1900 and 1915]
    Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 8 x 10 in.
    Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

    Caption courtesy of the Library of Congress

  • Title: Packard [Motor Car Company] Auto Plant, Detroit, Mich.
    Related Names: Detroit Publishing Co. , publisher
    Date Created/Published: [between 1900 and 1910]
    Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 8 x 10 in.
    Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

    Caption courtesy of the Library of Congress

  • The Packard Plant in 1954

  • Packard Plant In 2003

  • Beauty in the ruins of the Packard Plant

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”tracy jarrett/a:br /

  • memories

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”tracy jarrett/a:br /

  • Parking Structure?

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rainonthisparade”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rainonthisparade”rainonthisparade/a:br /

  • Window

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rainonthisparade”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rainonthisparade”rainonthisparade/a:br /

  • Packard

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/tracy_jarrett”tracy jarrett/a:br /

  • atop the ruines

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brian_Jarreau”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://graph.facebook.com/502297279/picture?type=square” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Brian_Jarreau”Brian Jarreau/a:br /Shot on the top of the building on the south west orner of the complex. looking toward down town Detroit

  • Goodbye, Packard.

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Struggle_Buggy”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Struggle_Buggy”Struggle Buggy/a:br /

  • Hero

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Michelle_Brockman”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://graph.facebook.com/1638230054/picture?type=square” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Michelle_Brockman”Michelle Brockman/a:br /

  • Light

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Tyler_Recchia”img style=”float:left;padding-right:6px !important;” src=”http://graph.facebook.com/1829928871/picture?type=square” //aa href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Tyler_Recchia”Tyler Recchia/a:br /

Flickr photo by Slavin.

Also on HuffPost:

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/packard-plant-foreclosure_n_2203900.html

Laurel City Council passes forclosed home tax break

The Laurel City Council unanimously approved an ordinance at its meeting Nov. 26 that offers residents who purchase foreclosed homes within the city limits a five-year property tax credit.

The tax credit, which goes into affect immediately, is only available to purchasers who will use the foreclosed home as a primary residence. It offers qualified buyers a tax credit of up to $3,500 each year for the first five years following the purchase of the home.

In the first two years, eligible recipients will receive credit for 100 percent of their property taxes, up to $3,500 maximum. In each of the following three years, purchasers of foreclosures will receive a decreasing credit equivalent to 75 percent, 50 percent and 25 percent of their property taxes.

Mayor Craig Moe said the idea for a tax credit, which can be applied for through the city’s tax credit program, came as a response to the number of foreclosed homes within the city of Laurel.

Through October, 171 homes within the city of Laurel (ZIP code 20707) have been foreclosed in 2012, according to RealtyTrac.com (see chart).

“When you drive around town, you can see some houses that are just sitting with nobody living there,” Moe said. “It’s a good opportunity to help people get into houses. If we can turn the house around, it’s good for the neighborhood and good for the community.”

Moe said while the city could lose up to $50,000 per year of tax revenue as a result of the ordinance, seeing foreclosed homes within the city off the market and inhabited is a welcome trade-off.

“When the house is not vacant, there are people taking care of the property and shopping locally, doing things here in the city. … Our hope is it will pay for itself in the long run,” Moe said. “People just need a little head start, especially when you are talking about first-time home buyers.”

Michelle Saylor, the city’s director of Budget and Personnel Services, said the program is modeled after the city’s Historic District Tax Credit, which provides a 10 percent credit on real estate taxes for those who make qualified improvements to the exterior of a building within the city’s designated historic districts.

Like the Historic District Tax Credit, Saylor believes the Foreclosure Tax Credit will create an incentive that ultimately benefits the whole city, not just the property owner.

“This will improve the neighborhoods by getting properties off the foreclosure list,” Saylor said.

Saylor added the purpose for providing the tax credit only to dwellers, and not purchasers who plan to use the home as a rental property, is because absentee landlords don’t always provide the same amount of attention to a home as someone living in it.

Saylor said some purchasers may be eligible for an additional year at 100 percent deduction, if the property they purchase qualifies as a distressed property in serious disrepair.

According to Saylor, the city building inspector will evaluate foreclosed homes to determine if they can be considered distressed.

If the buyer is eligible, Saylor said the 100 percent deduction would continue for a third year, and buyers would begin receiving three years of decreased credits starting in the fourth year of the program, totaling six years of tax credit.

City Council President Frederick Smalls said he and the council are very excited about the tax credit.

“Nobody benefits from vacant homes,” Smalls said. “We are doing what we can to give the community a boost in the arm.”

Ward 1 City Council member Ed Ricks said a home down the street from him is still vacant more than two years after being foreclosed.

“It encourages people to move to Laurel,” Ricks said. “It’s comforting knowing that a home that is foreclosed today, could have someone in it tomorrow.”

Article source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/community/ph-ll-foreclosure-tax-1129-20121128,0,883845.story

AG Bill Schuette Files Charges Against Former President of DocX for Role in …

(Source: AG Bill Schuette) - LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced he charged Lorraine Brown, former president of mortgage document processor DocX, with racketeering for her alleged role in authorizing the fraudulent signing of mortgage documents filed in Michigan.  The felony charge comes as the result of an ongoing Attorney General investigation into questionable mortgage documentation filed with Michigan’s Register of Deeds offices during the foreclosure crisis.

“Shortcuts like robo-signing are just one piece of the mortgage foreclosure crisis,” said Schuette.  “Our investigation remains ongoing, and we will bring to justice every lawbreaker we find.”

In April 2011, Schuette launched an investigation after county officials across the state reported that they suspected Assignment of Mortgage documents filed in their offices may have been forged.  A “60 Minutes” news broadcast had shown that the name “Linda Green” was signed to thousands of mortgage-related documents nationwide, but with many different variations in handwriting.  County officials in Michigan reviewed their files and found similar documents, thus raising questions about the authenticity of the documents filed.

As part of his investigation, Schuette reviewed documents filed in Michigan and prepared by DocX, a document processing company located in Georgia.  DocX processed mortgage assignments and lien releases for residential lenders and servicers nationwide.  Schuette’s investigation revealed that former DocX president Lorraine Brown, 51, of Alpharetta, Georgia, allegedly established and orchestrated a widespread scheme of “robo-signing,” a practice in which employees were directed to fraudulently sign another authorized person’s name on mortgage documents in order to execute these documents as quickly as possible.

Internally, DocX identified this practice as “facsimile signing” or “surrogate signing.”  Schuette alleges that from 2006 through 2009, these improperly executed documents were created and recorded at Brown’s direction.  Schuette’s investigation revealed that more than 1,000 unauthorized and improperly executed documents were filed with county registers of deeds throughout Michigan.

Lorraine Brown has been charged with one count of Conducting Criminal Enterprises (Racketeering), a 20-year felony, in Kent County’s 61st District Court.  Arrangements are being made for Brown to surrender to Michigan authorities, and arraignment will be scheduled at a later date.

In 2010, DocX suspended operations, halting its work as a mortgage document processor.  Schuette noted that while the criminal charges against Brown address her role in the scheme, his office’s overall investigation into robo-signing remains ongoing and is not yet complete.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Mortgage Settlement Brings Relief to Michigan Families

Earlier this year, Schuette joined 48 other state attorneys general in entering into a settlement with the five leading bank mortgage servicers. The settlement addresses allegations of faulty foreclosure processes and poor servicing of mortgages that harmed Michigan homeowners. The settlement also requires comprehensive reforms of mortgage loan servicing to improve customer service for Michigan borrowers.

On August 1, 2012, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to create the Homeowner Protection Fund.  The fund will be used to help avoid preventable foreclosures, alleviate the effects of the foreclosure crisis, support law enforcement activities to prevent or prosecute financial fraud or deceptive practices, and to compensate the state for costs resulting from unlawful conduct of the defendants in the lawsuit.

Current borrowers serviced by the banks may be eligible for loan modifications and other refinancing options.  Residents who went through foreclosure with the participating banks from 2008-2011 may be eligible for cash payments.  Within the last two months, more than 116,000 postcards and claim forms were mailed to Michigan borrowers who are eligible to file claims for cash payments, which are scheduled to be mailed in the first quarter of 2013.

“Although we can never completely undo the damage caused by the foreclosure crisis, through this settlement, many Michigan families will finally begin to see some relief,” said Schuette.

The Homeowner Protection Fund will be used for the following eight initiatives:

Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution – $7.5 million. Many Michigan residents have fallen prey to foreclosure rescue scam artists who offered to help citizens save their homes. This fund will provide restitution payments for victims of foreclosure scams. Eligibility criteria to determine qualifying cases are currently being developed by Schuette’s office.

Assistance for Veterans – $5 million. The men and women who served our country also have been affected by poor mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices. These funds will provide targeted relief for military service members unable to qualify for existing programs. The Michigan Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs will be responsible for this program.

Michigan Attorney General Home Protection Unit – $6 million. These funds will allow the attorney general to ramp up investigation and prosecution of foreclosure-related crimes. This unit has convicted 27 individuals and companies since 2011. These funds will allow for additional investigators and prosecutors to combat foreclosure related crimes.

Blight Elimination – $25 million. These funds will be dedicated to blight elimination efforts throughout Michigan. Detroit will receive $10 million for blight elimination in the city of Detroit and $15 million will be allocated for use throughout the rest of the state.

Foreclosure Counseling for Homeowners – $20 million. The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) and Michigan State University Extension Offices will use these funds to expand their much-needed, free homeowner counseling services for citizens seeking to avoid foreclosure.

Housing and Community Development Programs – $3.7 million. These funds will be allocated to the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund which develops and coordinates public and private resources to meet the affordable housing needs of low- income households and to revitalize downtown areas and neighborhoods in Michigan.

Grants to Help Homeowners Refinance – $5 million. These funds will allow MSHDA to provide grants to help pay the closing costs of citizens who use the Home Affordable Refinance Program. Eligible citizens will receive assistance paying closing costs associated with refinancing their home.  Homeowners will be able to begin applying for these funds by the end the year.

Assistance to Homebuyers – $15 million. These funds will assist both service members and non-service members by providing grants to offset the purchase price of a home.  Service members may be eligible for grants up to $5,000 and non-service members up to $3,000.  Eligibility criteria to determine qualifying cases will be established at a later date.  Homebuyers will be able to begin applying for these funds by the end the year.

More information on the 2012 Mortgage Settlement is available on the Attorney General’s Website at www.michigan.gov/mortgagesettlement.

Article source: http://www.loansafe.org/ag-bill-schuette-files-charges-against-former-president-of-docx-for-role-in-robo-signing-scandal

Wayne County Foreclosed Property Auction: Jerry Paffendorf And Alex Alsup …

If Detroit’s vacant land was gathered together, it would span an area that’s larger than the entire city of Paris. Every year, the Wayne County Foreclosed Property Auction offers up thousands of properties up to the highest bidder. That is, if there’s even a buyer. In the 2012 auction, which just ended, 8,000 of those foreclosed properties ended back up on the property rolls.

When prices of $500 for a plot of land can’t tempt a buyer, what will? That’s the kind of mind game that keeps digital wizards like Jerry Paffendorf busy. He’s the founder of Loveland Technologies and Why Don’t We Own This?, which has been working to digitize land maps, streamline the land auction process and think up new ways to make Detroit’s neighborhoods vibrant again.

Paffendorf will host a presentation and discussion with UIX and HuffPost Detroit called “No Property Left Behind,” kicking off Nov. 28 at the Cafe Con Leche De Este pop-up coffeeshop in Lafayette Park.

Click here for more information about the “No Property Left Behind” event and the Urban Innovation Exchange.

We asked Jerry Paffendorf and Loveland Technologies’ Alex Alsup to help decode Detroit’s blighted land use puzzle for us — read on!

HuffPost Detroit: Just about 20,000 properties (roughly 5% of the city) were auctioned for $500 and around 8,000 properties did not sell. Overall it seems there was nearly a $250,000,000 (quarter billion dollar) property tax revenue gap.

In your opinion, how much of a priority should it be for the City of Detroit to activate or sell off as many of these properties as possible?

Jerry Paffendorf: Cleaning, managing, investing in and reactivating vacant and blighted land should be among Detroit’s highest priorities in general, and the leftover auction properties are among the most interesting to work with. Foremost, they’re in a fluid state when so many other government- and privately-owned vacant properties are effectively frozen and inaccessible.

I mean, just a month ago anyone in the world could have purchased them for $500 a pop, no questions asked, and people are still reaching out trying to purchase them, so how can we say, “This cost $500 yesterday but now it’s too valuable to sell or do anything with”?

Building on that, why not clearly show people where they are, what they are, let them talk about them, apply for them, consider best options, offer contracts to clean, build or deconstruct them? Then migrate the successes of that to dealing with the city’s other 120,000 or whatever number of vacant lots and buildings. That’s part of our focus with Why Don’t We Own This? and we’re ready to work with any level of government that can make it happen at scale.

What does this statement from your website, Why Don’t We Own This?, mean to you? We will promote active investment over the buying and holding that slowly erodes properties and neighborhoods or halts the renewal this site is dedicated to.

Jerry Paffendorf: Detroit needs investment, but we’ve all seen the effects of people buying things and sitting on them. We have an open platform that doesn’t try to tell people how to think other than encouragements to follow the golden rule and treat other people how you’d like to be treated.

We have this somehow radical idea that public information should be better shared with the public, but to the extent that we take a position we are not sympathetic to nor do we encourage idle speculation. Sometimes people are afraid that showing more information about the city might lead to speculators jumping on things, but the good news is that transparency is a two-way street. Yes, you can see what’s for sale, but neighbors can also see you.

Previously when people bought up lots of properties at the auction, there was no way to know who they were and follow up with what’s happening. Now you can search for your neighborhood or have a look at all the buyers right here (click a buyers name to see a map of what they bought). Hopefully what it all adds up to is greater awareness of who’s buying what, and therefore, a greater awareness that you can’t just sit on things that someone else cares about.

What are a few examples of renewal that or reinvestment that could come from Detroiters purchasing properties — more than simply purchasing a home and working on it?

Jerry Paffendorf: I think it’s possible (inevitable?) to crowdfund blight removal and create more user-friendly land banks or land trusts that neighbors can invest in and have both greater financial and decision-making interest in the places where they live. Those are things we’re looking at closely and that we’ve experimented with on small scales.

Before the auction I was gauging interest in crowdfunding the purchase of leftover auction properties. I estimated it was likely that around 10,000 properties would not sell, and if a group wanted to purchase them at $500 a piece it would “only” cost $5 million. After that, the properties could be clearly advertised and matched with good owners and uses or cleanup efforts. There was a lot of interest in the idea, but also a lot of concern over liability that still needs sorting out. In the end we became part of a group that purchased 10 $500 houses expressly to deconstruct them so we can help streamline that process and make it repeatably crowdfundable. More on that as it develops.

Your website is as much a social forum as it is a property database. How did the process of creating that conversation develop, along with the mapping service?

Alex Alsup: That was interesting to watch develop this year. I don’t think we had very much to do with creating the conversation, we just provided space where it could go on. There was a moment where someone commented on a property and said, Hey, this is a property I’m interested in and please don’t bid on it, because I think I have the best idea for it. I thought that was a good thing, and many more people started having those kinds of conversations. It’s much better that people talk openly about their plans, than move around in the dark bumping into each other and finding out they were trying to accomplish the same thing.

You say that as many as 43,000 properties are currently moving into 2013 tax foreclosure and bound for auction in Wayne County alone. Those numbers seem so high that you wonder whether the demand to own something can ever catch up to this kind of supply.

Jerry Paffendorf: See this graph of Detroit’s population boom and bust over the last 200 years. In terms of population, we’re back to where we were 100 years ago when the city was much, much smaller, even spatially as you can see in this animation I made of Detroit’s annexed land over time. One of the things we’re left with is a residential parcel grid that doesn’t make sense anymore. There are basically too many properties and we’re trying to squeeze life as it is onto an ownership playing field built for 3 times as many people. You look out at a big empty field, and it might actually be 20 residential house-sized properties when it should really be 1 or 3 or 5 properties today.

One of my favorite auction stories this year is someone who got in touch wanting to buy 2 connected lots simply so he could legally turn them back into one property. That’s a long way of saying maybe the way to create demand and make sense of this dilemma is to reduce the overall number of properties. It’s interesting to consider putting that power directly into people’s hands so that neighborhoods can “shrink” the number of properties on their own terms.

Do you think everybody that can afford to buy a property in the auction should? Why or why not?

Alex Alsup: I’m not sure that it does anyone very much good if someone who can afford to buy a house for $500 does so, and then can’t pay their property taxes, and winds up foreclosed on in three years. But it’s a difficult question and there’s probably not a single answer that’s applicable to all situations.

What good comes from the discussion that you’re leading on Nov. 28? Is it just theoretical — more talk? Or do you see some kind of action arising from the event?

Alex Alsup: When it comes to Detroit’s land issues and the auction, I don’t think talk has exhausted its utility. The number of people who understand the scope and implications of the auction is still startlingly small. When you go into the neighborhoods most affected by the auction, many of the people we speak to have no idea the auction exists — have no idea the houses they live next door to, or even live in, are now owned by the county, and for sale. We hear endless commentary over the potential leasing of Belle Isle to the state, yet no one talks about the 8,000 properties left over from this year’s auction that are going to the Michigan Land Bank.

It’s a good fate for those properties, but it’s striking to see so much consternation over one instance of state control of Detroit property, and none at all over another, equally large, instance. If action comes out of the event on the 28th then great, but I would be more than happy if the result was that we all left a little better informed about Detroit’s foreclosure crisis and the Wayne County auction.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow

  • Peggy Brennan

    Peggy and Tom Brennan a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/peggybrennanvideo.aspx”run the Green Garage/a, which is a incubator for green businesses in Midtown housed in a historic building that they converted into a net-zero energy building.

    “It’s also a community of people dedicated to more sustainable way of living,” said Peggy Brennan.

  • John George

    Motor City Blight Busters’ John George a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/johngeorgevideo.aspx”takes the attitude/a, “get off your ass and do something.” His nonprofit has “boarded up, secured, demolished, rebuilt, repainted or otherwise positively impacted some 1,500 houses in the city with 120,000 volunteers logging almost 700,000 hours.”

  • Steve And Dorota Coy

    Urban artists Steve and Dorota Coy a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/videosteveanddorotacoy.aspx”make up Hygienic Dress League/a. “We know literally painting on a building isn’t like saving the homeless,” Steve Coy says. “We’re aware of that, but we also think there’s a very important role of what it does do. I love the idea of … broadening people’s cultural experience.”

  • Chandra Moore-Banks

    Chandra Moore-Banks works to make sure kids a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/chandramoorevideo.aspx”don’t get left out of placemaking/a with CoG Studio.

  • Scott Alan Davis

    “It’s very hard to reverse 50 years-plus of disinvestment,” said Scott Alan Davis, “So how do we get an equitable on-ramp for people in every in community to get on the prosperity highway.”

    Davis a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/vanguardcdcvideo.aspx”works with the Vanguard CDC on education, community and economic development/a in the North End neighborhood of Detroit.

  • Soh Suzuki

    Soh Suzuki a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/soh-suzuki-video.aspx”runs the Detroit Asian Youth (DAY) Project/a, building a sense of community and identity for Asian-American youth.

  • Steve Nawara

    Steve Nawara is working to disrupt the music industry model a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/steve-nawara-video.aspx”with Beehive Recording Studio/a, which records Detroit bands for free and gives the music away for free.

    “It’s using what we have here right now to make the best possible product we can,” Nawara said. “That’s what it all boils down to, using what’s around you rather than going, oh we can’t do this … we can’t do anything until we have these outside resources — no, we have all the resources right here.”

  • Terry Blackhawk

    a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-m-blackhawk-phd/”Terry Blackhawk /afounded the InsideOut Literary Arts Project in 1995. The program a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/terry-blackhawk-video.aspx”brings writers to schools to work with students/a, improving skills and helping them find a voice.

    “Our young people are up against so many difficult life circumstances.” Blackhawk said. “So what’s important about this is they have the ability to address these issues. They have a chance to be inventive, to be imaginative, to create, to think critically, and when you give them the tools of language, then they can go in whatever direction they want.”

  • Charlie Cavell

    Charlie Cavell a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/charlie-cavell-video.aspx”founded the nonprofit Pay It Forward Initiative/a to “employ, educate and empower young adults in Detroit.”

  • Halima Cassells

    With the Detroit Mural Factory, Halima Cassells works with the community to a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/halima-cassells-video.aspx”bring art to empty spaces/a.

  • Yusef Shakur

    A former felon, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yusef-bunchy-shakur/”Yusef Shakur/a sees his daily work as a debt he continues to pay back to his community a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/yusef-shakur-video.aspx”with several project revolving around his shop the Urban Network/a.

    “A bookstore, that’s the most radical sh*t you can do in the 21st century, open a bookstore in certain areas,” he said. “So why would I open up a bookstore? Because I know my people need it, I know my community needs it.”

  • Jessica Williams

    Jessica Williams a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/jessica-williams-video.aspx”runs the Young Adults of Heidelberg project/a.

    “It allows young adults to know that there is this place that’s outside of a typical institution that would allow them to just be radical,” she said. She helps students make their art ideas, from painting a mural to throwing an event, come to life.

  • Delphia Simmons

    Delphia Simmons a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/delphia-simmons-video.aspx”founded Thrive/a, a street newspaper sold by homeless individuals. It works to address a need she saw, to address immediate financial concerns of an underserved population with self-employment opportunities.

    “I think the thing that kind of prevents some people from kind of stepping out and doing things is thinking they need a lot of financing, but if you get 10 people that believe in what you’re doing, and those 10 people each get 10 people, and thats how you grow a movement, or a tribe around what you’re doing,” she explained.

  • Bobby Smith

    Bobby Smith started En Garde!, where he runs fencing programs for Detroit youth.

    “The genesis was really to give the opportunity that was given to me back to some inner city kid,” Smith said. “It grew from there …. It wasn’t just a sport anymore. It was wow, I can engage kids, i can get them physically healthy, and I can make them smarter because fencing is called physical chess for a reason.”

    I call fencing a

    Detroit sits down with Philip Lauri and Steven Oliver of DETROIT LIVES! to talk about the merits of social enterprise, and how his youth fencing programs are challenging the way education, particularly physical education, is delivered in schools.

  • Amy Kaherl

    Amy Kaherl a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/amy-kaherl-video.aspx”started Detroit SOUP/a, bringing people together once a month for soup, conversation, and supporting local innovation. It’s $5 for the event and dinner, where groups and individuals talk about projects they’re working on and fundraising for; afterwards, everyone votes for their favorite, and money from the entrance fee goes to the winner.

  • Jordi Carbonell

    Jordi Corbonnel a href=”http://www.uixdetroit.com/videos/jordi-carbonell-video.aspx”owns Cafe Con Leche/a, a coffee shop serving the community in Southwest Detroit. Corbonnel recently a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/cafe-con-leche-detroit-jordi-carbonell_n_2119055.html”opened a pop-up outpost of the coffee shop/a in Lafayette Park.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/wayne-county-foreclosed-property-auction-2012-jerry-paffendorf_n_2193845.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Ex-’West Wing’ star’s foreclosed home is sold

Richard Castaldo, Columbine Shooting Survivor, Fighting Foreclosure With …

Richard Castaldo fought for his life 13 years ago, after he was shot eight times during the Columbine High School massacre. Now he’s fighting to save his home.

The survivor, who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair as a result of the shooting, moved to Los Angeles five years ago to pursue a career in music, only to fall behind on mortgage payments for his condo, NBC Los Angeles reports. He may have again found help in the form of Occupy Los Angeles.

“I feel like they’re really the only group that doesn’t have an ulterior motive,” said Castaldo, who admits he “should have known better” than to believe the value of his condominium would go up. Roughly 36,000 California housing units received a foreclosure filing in October, according to RealtyTrac.

Time may be running out for Castaldo, considering the condo is set to be sold at auction on December 6. But given other successes Occupy groups have had saving homeowners threatened by foreclosure, he may still stand a chance. Over the summer, Occupy Our Homes — an offshoot of the Occupy movement — saved the home of a Minneapolis woman and helped another resident of that city resist foreclosure in the same month.

There are others, like Castaldo, struggling with Occupy-backed battles to keep their homes. A victim of foreclosure is continuing the fight to save her home with the help of activists from Occupy Oakland, Mercury News reports.

Despite Castaldo’s sad story, the foreclosure crisis has taken a turn for the better, at least for now. In September, U.S. foreclosure filings fell to to a five-year low.

Loading Slideshow

  • Columbine Shooting Survivor Fighting Foreclosure With Occupy LA’s Help

    Richard Castaldo survived the shooting at Columbine High School 13 years ago and now he is fighting to a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/richard-castaldo-columbine-foreclosure-occupy-la_n_2198146.html?utm_hp_ref=business” target=”_hplink”rescue his home from foreclosure/a. The people of Occupy Los Angeles are helping Castaldo and others like him to save their homes.

  • USDA Forecloses On 78-Year-Old Cancer Patient

    The USDA foreclosed on 78-year-old Texas resident Alicia Ramirez, reportedly a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/alicia-ramirez-cancer-eviction_n_1747933.html?utm_hp_ref=business” target=”_hplink”after she was diagnosed with cancer./a While the USDA has thus far allowed Ramirez to remain in her home, a court order evicting the senior citizen could be issued at any time.

  • Foreclosure Victims Lose Belongings After Free Yard Sale Goes Wrong

    The Vercher family of Woodstock, Georgia, offered to give away a a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/vercher-family-woodstock-craigslist-foreclosed_n_2017738.html?1351188857″ target=”_hplink”number of household items in a Craigslist ad/a after their house was foreclosed on. Instead, they ended up losing nearly all of their belongings when people began taking items from inside the house.

  • Wells Fargo Offers Cancer Patient ‘Assistance’ Then Forecloses

    Terminal breast cancer patient Cindi Davis could no longer keep up with her mortgage payments due to the cost of her medical bills. Faced with media scrutiny, her lender a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/wells-fargo-forecloses-cancer-patient-cindi-davis_n_1883956.html?1347635836″ target=”_hplink”Wells Fargo told a local radio station it was seeking “assistance”/a for Davis just weeks before setting the date to auction her home for December 19th, 2012.

  • Coca-Cola Heirs Lose $37.5 Million To Foreclosure

    Descendants of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler have been hit hard by the housing bust with their a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/candler-family-foreclosure-losses_n_1890911.html?1347906436″ target=”_hplink”real estate development company losing $37.5 million to foreclosure since the Great Recession began/a.

    (Pictured: the former mansion of Coca-Cola heir Asa Griggs “Buddy” Candler, Jr.)

  • Mom Evicted On Mother’s Day

    After she and her husband were allegedly duped into a bad loan, California mom Sheri Prizant faced the possibility of being evicted from her home on Mother’s Day, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/sheri-prizant-eviction-mothers-day_n_1507681.html?1336741860″ target=”_hplink”MSNBC/a reports.

  • CT Family Never Missed A Payment

    Shock Baitch and his wife Lisa of Connecticut a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/30/bank-of-america-foreclosure_n_802861.html” target=”_hplink”were threatened with foreclosure by Bank of America/a after never missing a payment. BofA mistakenly told credit agencies they were seeking a loan modification. “Now I am literally and financially paying for it,” Baitch told a href=”http://ctwatchdog.com/finance/bank-of-americas-christmas-present-foreclose-even-though-not-a-payment-missed” target=”_hplink”CTWatchdog.com/a.

  • Man Gets Free Home After Lender Shutdown

    Facing foreclosure, Perry Laspina of Jacksonville, Florida ended up with a home practically for free after his mortgage lender was shut down by parent company Wells Fargo, a href=”http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/04/14/foreclosure-foul-up-wins-man-a-free-home/” target=”_hplink”AOL Real Estate reports/a. Laspina got the home “because of the significant decreased value of the property,” a bank spokesman said.

  • BofA Forecloses On Building With Own Branch Office

    In Boynton Beach, Florida, Bank of America filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the owner of a building that houses one of its own branches, a href=”http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/news/2011/05/27/foreclosure-roundup.html?page=all” target=”_hplink”South Florida Business Journal reports/a.

  • Threatened Over $0.00 Unpaid Mortgage Payment

    A Massachusetts man was told he’d a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/massachusetts-homeowner-receives-foreclosure_n_872518.html” target=”_hplink”face foreclosure unless he paid an outstanding mortgage payment worth $0.00/a. “I’m going to write a check to them for zero dollars and have it clear? I couldn’t help but laugh,” he joked with local a href=”http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/i_team/I-Team:Man-gets-a-$0-foreclosure-notice” target=”_hplink”News 22 WWLP/a.

  • Home Allegedly Ransacked By Mortgage Company

    Chris Boudreau of Brooksville, Florida a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/florida-home-ransacked_n_890656.html” target=”_hplink”told local news that his house was ransacked by his mortgage company/a, 21st Mortgage Corporation, who he says even shredded his wife’s wedding dress. “When she saw what happened…she was crying her eyes out,” a href=”http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/article/199268/8/Mans-home-trashed-by-mortgage-company” target=”_hplink”he told WTSP 10 News/a.

  • Mortgage Payment Made Too Early

    A senior couple in Pasco County, Florida faced foreclosure not for missing payments, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/senior-florida-couple-faces-foreclosure-mortgage-early_n_933147.html” target=”_hplink”but for making one too early/a. According to a Bank of America representative, they made themselves ineligible for a mortgage modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program when they did not make their payment in the “month in which it [was] due.”

  • Foreclosure In ‘World’s Richest Apartment Building’

    Property developer Kent Swig and his soon-to-be ex-wife Elizabeth faced foreclosure from their apartment at 740 Park Avenue, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/26/foreclosure-hits-property-developer-billionaire-building_n_937676.html” target=”_hplink”a New York City address often cited as “the world’s richest apartment building.”/a

  • Untransferred Title Leads To Unfair Foreclosure

    Brian and Khanklink Pyron of Houston, Texas were a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/brian-khanklink-pyron-foreclosure_n_1003339.html” target=”_hplink”threatened with foreclosure despite keeping current on their payments due to an untransferred title/a. “We did everything we were supposed to do,” Brian Pyron told a href=”http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/local/110926-family-hit-by-surprise-foreclosure?CMP=201110_emailshare” target=”_hplink”MyFoxHouston/a.

  • Foreclosure On Hurricane-Destroyed Home

    Brad Gana, of Seabrook, Texas was threatened with foreclosure by Bank of America even though his a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/31/foreclosure-crisis-bank-of-america-hurricane-ike_n_1068080.html” target=”_hplink”house had been completely destroyed years earlier in Hurricane Ike/a. “Bank of America is ruthless in their incompetency,” a href=”http://www.click2houston.com/news/Bank-Forecloses-On-Home-Destroyed-By-Ike/-/1735978/4718190/-/vpooliz/-/index.html” target=”_hplink”he told Houston 2 News/a.

  • $1 Coding Error Leads To Foreclosure

    Utah’s Shantell Curtis and her family were threatened with a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/bofa-foreclosure-missing-1-already-sold-home_n_1074538.html” target=”_hplink”foreclosure by Bank of America on a home they had already sold years prior/a. On top of that, the whole episode concerned the matter of just a $1 coding error.

  • Investigative Journalist Becomes Foreclosure Victim

    George Knapp, chief investigative reporter for Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS, found he was a a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/foreclosure-crisis-investigative-reporter-george-knapp-victims_n_1119480.html?ref=business” target=”_hplink”victim of the very brand of foreclosure fraud he was investigating/a for a news report. Him being the reporter, the episode put him in a “very weird spot,” a href=”http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/als-morning-meeting/153585/local-tv-station-tackles-mortgage-mess-as-investigative-reporter-discovers-hes-a-victim-too/” target=”_hplink”he told the Poynter Insitute/a.

  • BofA Falsely Threatens Paralyzed Man With Foreclosure

    Robert Galanida, a 41-year-old man paralyzed from the shoulders down, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/bank-of-america-sends-false-statements-paralyzed-eviction_n_1202463.html” target=”_hplink”battled Bank of America for nearly a decade/a because it repeatedly sent him false statements threatening foreclosure.

  • Tracy Morgan Refuses Mother Foreclosure Help

    In January 2012, actor Tracy Morgan reportedly refused to give his mother a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/tracy-morgan-foreclosure-mother_n_1244641.html” target=”_hplink”$25,000 she needed to avoid foreclosure/a, instead offering only $2,000.

  • Bank Of America Plaza Foreclosure

    The Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta was sold at a foreclosure auction in February after its landlord, BentleyForbes, could no longer afford mortgage payments, a href=”http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-14/american-foreclosure-bottoms-at-atlanta-tower-auction-mortgages.html” target=”_hplink”BusinessWeek reports/a. BofA a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/bank-of-america-plaza-foreclosure_n_1197040.html” target=”_hplink”was a tenant in the building at the time/a but had no other connection besides sharing the tower’s ironic name.

  • JPMorgan Tries To Foreclose On Civil Rights Activist

    Even while it promoted a February 2012 campaign to “fulfill” the “vision” of Martin Luther King Jr., a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/07/helen-bailey-foreclosure_n_1260078.html?ref=foreclosure-crisis” target=”_hplink”JPMorgan Chase threatened 78-year-old civil rights activist Helen Bailey with foreclosure/a. The bank ultimately allowed Bailey to stay in her home indefinitely after Occupy Nashville helped bring national attention to the issue, a href=”http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/14/425255/helen-bailey-foreclosure/” target=”_hplink”Think Progress/a reports.

  • Foreclosure At Luxury Retirement Home

    Despite being billed as “cosmopolitan living for ages 60+,” the luxury a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/fox-hill-foreclosure_n_1314970.html” target=”_hplink”Fox Hill Senior Condominiums was threatened with foreclosure/a in March after its lenders said they were backing out.

  • Man Fined For Not Mowing His Old Lawn

    David Englett was charged with fines by the city of Arlington, Texas for not mowing the lawn of a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/david-englett_n_1317276.html” target=”_hplink”a house he had already lost to foreclosure years earlier/a.

  • 101-Year-Old Woman Evicted From Home

    Texana Hollis was evicted from her home due to foreclosure in September 2011, then a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/22/texana-hollis-evicted-detroit-woman_n_1222452.html?ref=foreclosure-crisis” target=”_hplink”denied a subsequent promise that she could move back in/a by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It wasn’t until April 2012 that a href=”http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57409700/texana-hollis-evicted-at-101-allowed-back-home/” target=”_hplink”she was finally granted permission to return to the home/a she’s lived in for 60 years.

  • BofA Forecloses On Woman After Telling Her To Miss Payments

    According to Pamela Flores, an Atlanta homeowner, a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/bank-america-foreclosure-miss-mortgage-payment_n_1414988.html” target=”_hplink”Bank of America advised her to stop making payments/a on her loan in order to negotiate a modification. After doing so, the bank foreclosed on her anyway, claiming she’d missed a trial payment

  • Mother, Disabled Daughter Forced Out Of Home Even After BofA Modification

    Dirma Rodriguez and her disabled daughtera href=”https://editorial.huffingtonpost.com/entry/?blog_id=2entry_id=1423883″ target=”_hplink” were forced to flee their home in minutes/a after Bank of America sold it to a flipper at a foreclosure auction, even though the bank had already modified her loan. But not all hope is lost; Rodriguez may get her home back after the Occupy Fights Foreclosure movement intervened.

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/richard-castaldo-columbine-foreclosure-occupy-la_n_2198146.html

Reversing a Portland eviction

Rallying for a moratorium on evictions at Portland's City Hall (Jamie Partridge | SW)Rallying for a moratorium on evictions at Portland’s City Hall (Jamie Partridge | SW)

JUST AS Portland’s foreclosure resistance movement was gaining confidence, the city police and county sheriffs evicted Patricia Williams and Darren Johnson. But thanks to the efforts of housing rights activists, the two were back in their home as of Thanksgiving.

On October 30, as the Rapid Response Network turned out 50 home defenders, the authorities countered with 40 police in riot gear, with Tasers, shotguns, and tear gas grenade launchers. As some of the defenders attempted to prevent the eviction, police shot pepper spray, forcing the crowd to retreat. Patricia, whose severe respiratory condition had caused her job loss, medical bills and foreclosure, was rushed from the scene.

The police violence at the home of Patricia and Darren came after a mass rally in late October caused the city to backtrack on its order for Alicia Jackson to leave her home. And the crackdown continued: On November 6, county sheriffs forcibly evicted Will and Heather Sirotek, evading the Rapid Response Network by pulling Will over after he’d dropped off his granddaughter at school.

With the assistance of Portland city police, who barricaded off entire blocks, the Multnomah County Sheriffs broke down both doors, pointed an assault rifle at Heather and took her out in her pajamas, not allowing her to use her phone or get her medication. Heather has terminal cancer, and Will lost his job at the height of the economic crash, a costly combination that led to their home foreclosure.

The next day, a group of ministers, led by Rev. Cecil Prescod, testified before the Portland City Council, calling on the city to stop the public subsidy of bank profits through foreclosure evictions. A letter, signed by dozens of faith leaders, declared, “In a bank-caused economic crisis that affects our community’s jobs, access to health care, and ability to pay mortgages, combined with the ongoing efforts of banks to avoid responsibility, no foreclosure can be called fair.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

TWO DAYS later, We Are Oregon, Occupy Northeast and the Black Working Group staged a protest at the sheriff’s office. More than 200 demonstrators flooded the lobby of the Multnomah County building to deliver a letter demanding that the sheriff cease foreclosure evictions. The cavernous office lobby echoed for 20 minutes with chants, songs and speeches by foreclosure resisters, including Heather Sirotek and Darren Johnson.

A week later, November 16, another rally drew 50 supporters to City Hall to demand that the city and county governments declare a moratorium on evictions. While insisting that elected officials take the side of homeowners against predatory banks, many who are facing foreclosure stepped up to declare their intention to stay in their homes.

Kent, who with his wife Grace, has lived in Portland for 50 years, had a similar experience to the recently evicted Patricia and Darren. Kent said he filed paperwork for loan modification four times, and each time the bank lost the paperwork. “Our community doesn’t want us to move,” said Kent. “Our neighbors are supporting us.”

A local housing rights activist known as Flenard, representing Hattie Porter, an 83-year-old woman with a heart problem whose home is in foreclosure, told the crowd that Hattie was ready to challenge her eviction.

“She’s not giving up,” he said. “She’s going to stand up and fight. We need to work together to save our schools, homes, and country. It’s time for us to stand together and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We are not the pigs that built their homes of hay and sticks. Our homes are made of bricks.”

Boots Riley, lead singer with the popular rap group, the Coup, told the crowd that the foreclosure resistance movement was fighting for an alternative to the capitalist system that frames housing as an earned reward rather than a human right:

We live in a world where we are taught to work 40 to 60 hours a week so you can have a place to live. Your first house is a celebration, and you have to work your whole life to keep it. That’s considered success. Truth is housing should be a right. We are not seen as humans in this system. We are disposable tools for profit.

Protesters then marched up the street to a Summit on Affordable Housing and Homelessness, which had city and county commissioners in attendance. Invited inside by homeless advocates, the demonstrators took over the meeting. They made their demand for a moratorium on evictions to the elected officials and assured them that with or without a moratorium, homeowners would resist removal.

Protesters also announced that just that morning, Patricia Williams and Darren Johnson, with the help of community supporters and faith leaders, had re-occupied their home.

As demonstrators left the summit, word arrived that five Portland police officers were escorting movers into Patricia and Darren’s home to remove their property from the premises. Then, just as movers were prying open the front door, the police were called off. Resisters inside the home saw the police receive a phone call and then announce their departure because “this is a civil matter.” As of Thanksgiving, Patricia and Darren are still in their home.

As of this writing, the sheriff’s office has asked for a meeting with We Are Oregon and the Black Working Group. Public opposition to heavy-handed police evictions on behalf of much-hated banks is evident. Even mainstream television and newspaper reporters express sympathy for homeowners.

We Are Oregon and the Black Working Group will continue canvassing neighborhoods, inviting neighbors to put anti-eviction signs in their yards and enlisting hundreds in the Rapid Response Network.

Article source: http://socialistworker.org/2012/11/27/reversing-a-portland-eviction