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California city seizes homes to save them

(MoneyWatch) A California city has come up with an unusual way to keep its residents out of foreclosure: Take over their mortgages.

Richmond, Calif., launched a local principal reduction plan, a controversial program that would allow the city to purchase underwater mortgages. Failing that, the city will use eminent domain to purchase the loans. Then the city would refinance or modify their mortgages to reduce the principal to a level more in line with current market values throughout the struggling city.

The city has partnered with Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP), an advisory firm that has lined up the funding to purchase the loans and technical support to carry out the program. The company has promised the program won’t cost taxpayers a dime, and homeowners who opt in to the program will pay a flat $4,500 fee.

City officials are hoping the unusual plan will save Richmond from its desperate situation. Home prices have plummeted 43 percent since their 2007 peak, leaving half the homeowners with mortgages in the city underwater. The city’s coffers have suffered, too, due to the steep reduction in property taxes paid, and it has slashed its budget repeatedly, making it harder to keep up with road repairs, offer basic services and combat the uptick in crime.

Richmond is offering the program to 624 homeowners whose loans are underwater and highly likely to fall into foreclosure, according to Graham Williams, CEO of MRP. Only 180 are delinquent, while 444 are still current on payments.

Most of those mortgages were taken out by low-income, minority residents who were the victims of predatory, subprime lenders, city officials and housing advocates say.

“These are not, for the most part, fixed-rate loans,” Williams said. “They are negatively amortizing, low-doc and interest-only loans.”

Even if homeowners are current, they are still highly likely to default at some point in the future, according to an analysis conducted by MRP.

Morris LeGrande, a homeowner pushing for the program in Richmond, is underwater by $300,000 on a home currently valued at just $130,000. Yet he is paying close to $3,000 a month and has a jumbo payment of $190,000 due in 27 years.

“I am not a homeowner under a technical definition,” he said. “I will never be able to pay for this home under the current conditions.”

His loan originated with a bank but was bundled and sold and is still currently being moved around from servicer to servicer, he said.

LeGrande’s story is similar to others in the community whose loans were sold to pools of private investors and are dubbed private-label security mortgages. The investors who own these loans claim they cannot be modified.

“After years of waiting on the banks to offer a more comprehensive fix or the federal government to make them, we’re stepping into the void and making it happen ourselves,” Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said.

The city will first attempt to buy the mortgages from the companies but will move to seize the properties through eminent domain if the two parties don’t agree on a fair price.

And it’s the potential use of eminent domain that is riling up the mortgage banking industry. The Mortgage Bankers Association paints a dire picture if the eminent domain plan isn’t dismantled.

“Using eminent domain to seize mortgages will result in tighter, more expensive credit for potential home buyers and those looking to refinance, driving down home values and threatening local economic recovery,” said MBA president and CEO David H. Stevens in an e-mail. “Further, cramming losses down on existing mortgage-backed securities holders will drive down the value of millions of Americans’ investments, including pension plans, mutual funds and 401(k) retirement accounts.”

So far, a coalition of financial organizations has quashed previous attempts at using eminent domain to seize mortgages. Last year San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, attempted the same idea with Mortgage Resolution Partners. After initially gaining momentum, the plan quickly fell apart when industry opponents launched a massive campaign to fight the proposal. Under threats of expensive and lengthy litigation, and without enough public support, San Bernardino dropped the idea.

But this time around, MRP has agreed to pay for any litigation costs on behalf of Richmond.

Legally speaking, however, experts are questioning whether the opposition really has a leg to stand on.

“I think the fact that the mortgage industry is going kind of nutso on this demonstrates they’re not so confident on their legal claim,” said Tim Iglesias, professor of law at nearby University of San Francisco School of Law.

There’s conflicting views on eminent domain, but under current interpretations of the constitution, Richmond likely does have the right to seize the homes, he said.

“The real legal issue is going to be about public use and public purpose,” Iglesias said.

Generally, the government can seize a home through eminent domain when it serves a public purpose. That public purpose ranges from curing blight to building a road to creating economic development, at least in California.

“I think the city of Richmond has a lot of really strong arguments,” Iglesias said. “More than half its homes are underwater, so they can cite health and safety purposes and could make the economic development argument to rescue the city from going under.”

Still, opponents claim this particular use of eminent domain is both illegal and unconstitutional and may still bring legal action against the city to stop the plan in its tracks.

In the meantime, Richmond will move forward under close watch by several other cities. The California cities of El Monte and La Puente are advancing their programs, and North Las Vegas is looking into it.

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Atlanta Bankruptcy Experts, Clark & Washington, Note 5784 Properties on June …


Atlanta Bankruptcy Experts, Clark Washington, Note 5,784 Properties on June 4 Foreclosure Report

Nearly 6,000 properties are scheduled to be foreclosed on in early June in Atlanta unless their owners can stop the proceedings. Clark Washington can help.

NORCROSS, GA, July 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ — Even with the economy and housing market rebounding, many families are still struggling with their finances. Some are even facing the horror of having their homes foreclosed. Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys Clark Washington have learned that 5,784 Atlanta families are scheduled to be foreclosed upon on June 4th this year.

If you are one of the families who stands to lose their property in the June 4th foreclosures, or you are scheduled for a future foreclosure, Clark Washington may be able to help keep you in your home. Filing for personal bankruptcy in Atlanta can stop foreclosure proceedings and help you to keep your home and other essential property, like your car.

Although financial troubles are always trying, you are never alone when you have Clark Washington on your side. Their compassionate bankruptcy attorneys in Atlanta want to help you find the solution to your financial difficulties that is right for you and your family. They offer a free bankruptcy consultation to anyone considering filing for bankruptcy in Atlanta.

During your free bankruptcy consultation, you will meet with one of Clark Washington’s experienced Atlanta bankruptcy lawyers. They will listen carefully to your case and help you to understand the options you have available. Often, filing for personal bankruptcy is the best option, but when another option is better for you, your Clark Washington attorney will encourage you to pursue that option.

To schedule your free consultation with one of Clark Washington’s personal bankruptcy lawyers or to learn more about how filing for bankruptcy may help you to avoid foreclosure, please visit

About Clark Washington:

Established in 1983, Clark Washington is now one of the leading bankruptcy filers in the Southeast. They have locations in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Clark Washington specializes in personal chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. They

offer honest, helpful legal advice to those experiencing financial hardships.

For more information, visit

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Allie Petit

Content Manager

Cardinal Web Solutions

Press release service and press release distribution provided by

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How to Stop Foreclosure in Toronto, Canada Examined for Homeowners Online …

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Stop Foreclosure in Toronto, Canada

We’ve examined many top companies that are currently helping owners of homes

Buffalo, NY (PRWEB) July 31, 2013

Foreclosure in the housing industry is not only a threat to United States homeowners. Men and women who have outstanding mortgage payments or homes that have lost value could be facing the threat of losing their home through the process of foreclosure. The company has now published its how to stop foreclosure in Toronto, Canada examination online at

“We’ve examined many top companies that are currently helping owners of homes,” said a reviewer from the Real Estate News Wire company.

Banks and mortgage companies have become more aggressive at selling the mortgage of a property before and after payments are behind.

One of the companies that have been examined online is the Homes Are Precious Properties Inc. at This company is one example of a non-realty company that is using its experience as real estate investors to present better options for homeowners who have exhausted other routes to save their property.

Decreasing home values are now becoming more common as the housing industry suffers in some parts of Canada. Adjustable rate mortgages and the decreasing value of purchased properties has caused some homeowners to own a home that is worth considerably less than the current mortgage value.

The examination now published online is offering one source that can be used for information about stopping the process of foreclosure in Toronto and other Canadian cities.

“We’re now posting many of the secondary options that owners of properties may not be aware of in all parts of the U.S. and Canada online,” the reviewer concluded.

Daily updates and changes to the website are making it simpler for homeowners or others interested in real estate to find helpful information. The syndication agreements that are now in place by this company is expected to present these foreclosure options to homeowners currently searching for relief efforts online.


The company presents unbiased reviews, tips and information in the housing industry for buyers and sellers. This company has a full staff of editors, researchers and housing veterans who combine knowledge and data to present syndicated information to media outlets. This company has changed its website design this year and information is easier to access for all visitors. The 2013 year has been another of growth of the company and new partners for syndication have been added for a broad reach of content published for readers online.

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Connecticut Homeowners Find Foreclosure Defense Help from Raymond Savoy …

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Raymond Savoy - Connecticut Foreclosure Defense at Consumer Attorney Services

Jacksonville, Florida (PRWEB) July 31, 2013

Consumer Attorney Services recently added attorney Raymond Savoy to its national foreclosure defense team in July to help more Connecticut homeowners avoid foreclosure. Savoy represented an easy selection for Consumer Attorney Services with over a decades’ worth of experience as an attorney and over two decades’ worth of experience as a law enforcement officer.

For the last four years, Savoy has worked as an associate attorney at Fitzpatrick, Mariano Santos P.C. His primary practice areas include worker’s compensation, employment litigation, criminal law, foreclosure defense and DWI defense.

Before working at Fitzpatrick, Mariano Santos P.C., Savoy ran a sole proprietorship law firm for eight years. He helped clients with personal injury and family law, but primarily focused on employment litigation and labor matters.

He attended law school at the Quinnipiac University School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate in 2001. Prior to law school, he went to the University of New Haven and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement science.

Savoy’s experience with law extends beyond the courtroom having also worked for over 23 years as a police officer. He is a retired patrol sergeant with the Naugatuck Police Department and a former patrol officer with the New Milford Police Department.

He used his legal background as an attorney to work at the Waterbury Police Academy as an adjunct law enforcement instructor. He taught the Waterbury Police Academy in the areas of civil liability, courtroom demeanor, criminal law, housing law, and more.

Savoy stays actively involved with the Naugatuck community and was a former board member to the Naugatuck Board of Education.

Consumer Attorney Services’ new addition of Savoy to its national foreclosure defense team can help more Connecticut homeowners to avoid foreclosure. Consumer Attorney Services is a full service consumer advocacy law firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, and offers legal services including but not limited to: foreclosure defense, debt settlement, and bankruptcy law.

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Five Ways to Beat Foreclosure: Complimentary Report Released by Certified …

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Go to my website to download a free copy of this report.

While the media is focused on the housing recovery, there are still Millions of home owners in distress that are looking for answers.

Baltimore, Maryland (PRWEB) July 31, 2013

As the housing market improves on a national level, news reports have focused on trends like interest rates and rising prices, high levels of mortgage delinquency and foreclosure have been largely ignored.

“The market is definitely recovering and that is great news,” said Dan McDevitt, Certified Distressed Property Expert with Cummings Co. Realtors, “but the media focus on the recovery could mean that people who are still in danger of losing their homes are forgotten about. I want to change that.”

While delinquency rates have improved since the worst part of the housing and financial crash, they are still at elevated levels well above historical norms. “The simple fact is that, even though delinquency numbers have dropped below 12%, that still represents millions of homeowners who are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure and don’t know what to do,” McDevitt said. “My message for homeowners in this situation is that there are options that can help them secure their future.”

Dan McDevitt has developed a free report entitled, “Save Your Financial Future: 5 Ways to Beat Foreclosure and Avoid a Damaging Credit Collapse,” which outlines the options that are available to these at-risk homeowners. The report is accessible from his website,

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Homeowners fight foreclosure through crowdfunding

(MoneyWatch) Can a crowd save a house?

Homeowners facing foreclosure certainly hope so. Struggling borrowers are turning to new crowdfunding sites to raise money from friends, family and even strangers to keep up with their mortgage payments.

Ruth Caspary, 45, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe after losing her job in 2009 as a visual effects artist. Finding a new job was tough, so instead she joined her husband’s dance instruction business, “Salsa with Juan,” as a marketing manager and dance instructor.

Although her new career reduced her income, the two made ends meet for a while through the business and various side jobs. But late last year they started falling behind on the mortgage payments for their three-bedroom Oakland home.

This spring, Caspary received a letter that her home would fall into foreclosure on August 3 unless she could catch up on her mortgage payments, totaling $15,000. The couple tried working with their lender, but to little avail. So last month, Caspary and her husband, Juan Gil, decided to ask for help.

“I just figured we’d reach out to our community and sort of bare our souls,” Caspary said.

She’s not alone. Listings asking donors to “Help save my children’s home” and “Help avoid foreclosure” are popping up across dozens of fundraising websites like GoFundMe, Indiegogo, FundRazr and GiveForward. Unlike Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding site known mostly as a place where artists, inventors and entrepreneurs can raise funds for creative projects, these sites allow people to request funds for any purpose. The site then take a cut of the donations ranging from 4 to 10 percent.

Most of these crowdfunding sites were established for people who needed a platform to help them organize fundraising for a specific cause, whether for an athlete raising money to compete in a national competition or a family asking for help paying off medical bills after an emergency.

“Some of the earliest campaigns were split in half,” GoFundMe CEO Brad Damphousse said. “On one side you had life’s most exciting chapters: weddings and honeymoons and youth sports and education and travel — the fun stuff. On the other you had the really challenging times: an accident or an illness and associated medical expenses. It really was split from the get-go, and we’ve seen that trend continue.”

In contrast to a health crisis, and fairly or not, foreclosures are often regarded as an avoidable crisis. That may explain why homeowners so far are struggling to raise money. In the 100 or so campaigns on GoFundMe, less than 1 percent have been successful. On other sites like Indiegogo and FundRazr, not a single home has been saved.

Caspary said she has detected some skepticism regarding her fundraising campaign, with one friend calling it “trust fund” and others pointedly refusing to donate. Yet her campaign is one of the most successful, having raised more than $7,500 and passing the halfway mark of the couple’s fundraising goal.

Indeed, Caspary is far from discouraged, even as the time ticks down for her to send the money to the bank. The community has rallied around them, offering emotional support and help with promoting the business and finding them more work, she said.

“It’s just nice to me that people acknowledging what we’re going through, and also that they’re willing to help us grow,” Caspary said. “If you’ve been good to your community, they will be good to you.”

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Foreclosure activity ‘plummets again’ in June, the Warren Group says

Foreclosure petitions, which mark the first step in the foreclosure process in Massachusetts, fell to their lowest monthly level in June since 2006, the Warren Group said Tuesday.

And 2006 was the year that the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks real estate data, started compiling foreclosure statistics. June 2013 foreclosure petitions were down 84 percent on a year-to-year comparison basis.

But while foreclosure deeds, which represent completed foreclosures, decreased more than 56 percent in June on a year-to-year basis, the June 2013 total was the highest monthly total so far this year, the Warren Group said.

“One reason we’re seeing continuing declines in foreclosure activity is the sharp rise in home prices,� Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. “Fewer homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, which is helping the foreclosure issue.�

“Aside from the rise in prices, a healthy economy, an improved employment picture, and favorable loan modification legislation is causing these steep decreases,� Timothy Warren added.

Last month, 245 foreclosure petitions were recorded, an 84 percent decrease from June 2012, the Warren Group said.

As for foreclosure deeds, there were 329 in June 2013, down from 754 deeds in June 2012.

Chris Reidy can be reached at

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California city’s drastic foreclosure remedy: Seizure

eminent domain richmond

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the city is “stepping into the void with a local principal reduction program” after other attempts to stem foreclosures failed.

The California city of Richmond said Tuesday that it’s ready to take an extraordinary step in its bid to stop foreclosures — threatening to wrest mortgages from the investors who now control them.

As a first step, the San Francisco Bay city said it will work with an investment firm to try to purchase mortgages of underwater homeowners at a price well below their current balances. It would then try to get those loans restructured to make them affordable.

But if the holders of the loans, who are mostly investors, refuse to sell by Aug. 14, the city said it will invoke eminent domain to seize the mortgages so it has more control over the process of making them affordable.

Eminent domain is the legal principle that lets government entities purchase land or structures, usually from reluctant owners who don’t want to sell. It is typically invoked for public uses such as parks, roads or utilities — not mortgages.

In the case of Richmond, the city argues that eminent domain is in the public interest because it could let people stay in their homes and help keep neighborhoods, especially minority communities and low-income neighborhoods, from fraying.

“After years of waiting for a comprehensive fix, we’re stepping into the void with a local principal reduction program,” said Gayle McLaughlin, mayor of Richmond.

The idea is controversial and reflects the frustration, seven years after the housing market started to collapse, of homeowners and officials in areas that are still reeling.

The Richmond plan was proposed by a private backer, Mortgage Resolution Partners, which will find the money the city needs to buy the mortgages. It stands to profit by taking a cut when the loans are refinanced.

Related: Borrowers in Obama’s housing program re-defaulting, watchdog says

There’s no question the housing meltdown has thwacked Richmond.

The median home price peaked at about $460,000 in early 2006, according to real estate website Zillow. Today, it is $206,000.

That means a family that purchased at the top of the market could still owe twice the current value of its home.

Where foreclosures are being snapped up 

The idea of invoking eminent domain has been considered but rejected by other localities, including Chicago and San Bernardino, another California city hit hard by the real estate collapse.

Related: 10 great foreclosure deals

Richmond’s efforts are likely to draw court challenges from investors and others who hold the current mortgages and stand to lose financially, experts said.

And banks could be scared off lending to homeowners in Richmond in the future.

“Eminent domain refinancing may offer temporary benefits to underwater borrowers in specific markets, but there will be longer-term harm as lenders are likely to pull out of those markets and mortgage financing costs across the board are likely to rise,” said Jaret Seiberg, a banking analyst at Guggenheim Partners.

Richmond homeowner Morris LeGrande, however, said the city is already paying a big price for the severely underwater mortgages.

Borrowers paying off bloated loans have less money to spend at businesses in town. And the homes lost to foreclosure can blight entire neighborhoods, lower property values for every homeowner and contribute to crime.

“We want the city to purchase the loans at fair market value so we can manage our lives more effectively and economically,” he said. To top of page

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Zhou & Chini Lawyers Help Residents File Emergency Bankruptcy & Stop …

Those living in and around Irvine can get professional help with freeing up finances by hiring Zhou Chini attorneys to file an emergency bankruptcy as well as stop wage garnishments. The Law Offices of Zhou Chini release new marketing efforts that are promoting instant financial relief and stop bill collectors through emergency bankruptcies and ceasing the garnishing of wages.

(PRWEB) July 29, 2013

The Law Offices of Zhou Chini has launched a marketing campaign aimed at informing Irvine residents that they can get fast financial relief. The expert attorneys working with the firm are both highly knowledgeable and skilled in bankruptcy law and can, therefore, help Irvine residents file for emergency bankruptcy in Orange County that provide instant financial relief from aggressive bill collectors. They can also have wage garnishments stopped so that full paychecks can once again flow into their budgets and meet pressing needs. To find out how to stop wage garnishments in Irvine or to file for emergency bankruptcy visit the local website here,

The newly launched Zhou Chini marketing campaign seeks to inform those living in Irvine that they can get immediate financial relief through the services of their skilled legal team. Financially hard times are stressful for individuals, families and business owners, but that stress is increased many times when aggressive lenders and bill collectors hound and harass people for payments which cannot be made. Oftentimes, bill collectors and lenders will garnish the wages of their defaulted customers in order to obtain some sort of payment. However, this can place an incredible strain on those already in dire straits. By obtaining a skilled bankruptcy lawyer through Zhou Chini, Irvine residents can file for emergency bankruptcy that will stop bill collectors in their tracks and wipe out their unsecured debts so that money is freed up to ease their dire situations. Also, the expert attorneys of Zhou Chini will have wage garnishments stopped, further freeing up important funds that can again flow into individuals budgets. To find out more about bankruptcy information in California and how it pertains to residents contact the firm directly.

Since its opening in 1999, the Law Offices of Zhou Chini have been providing bankruptcy counsel and representation for thousands of individuals, families and business owners across Southern California. They have helped Irvine home and business owners avoid foreclosure, eliminate mountains of unsecured debt and provide other means of financial relief. To learn about California bankruptcy exemptions and how they affect those seeking to file visit the law firm’s website. Irvine clients who are experiencing such dire circumstances can schedule a free 30 minute consultation with a professional bankruptcy lawyer. During this consultation, clients can discuss their situation and receive professional advice on which form of bankruptcy best meets their needs. They might choose from Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to alleviate their situations, or be advised to seek other forms of financial relief through the courts. Those that are homeowners that are experiencing financial hardships should consult a mortgage consultant to find out if they qualify for any government programs.

Attorneys working through the Law Offices of Zhou Chini have been successfully helping Southern California residents avoid foreclosure and gain financial freedom through bankruptcy law since 1999. A no cost 30 minute consultation is provided with professional bankruptcy lawyers to evaluate financial needs and discuss options. The Irvine bankruptcy lawyers use a professional search engine optimization company to assist in marketing and to promote the message about the importance of speaking with a bankruptcy lawyer in Irvine CA, if someone is considering filing. The firm continues its online presence by offering zero cost bankruptcy information on bankruptcy firm’s blog and social media pages. By promoting their services online by a local SEO company, along with free consultations the firm hopes to attract more Irvine residents looking for financial relief. To read more about the firm’s bankruptcy attorney Irvine Facebook page visit,

About the Firm: The Law Office of Zhou Chini servicing the cities and counties of California. He is a graduate of UCLA and has been practicing law since 1999. Mr. Zhou has a wealth of experience in bankruptcy, civil litigation, family law, criminal law and unlawful detainer. Zhou and Chini Law Offices provide bankruptcy assistance to Orange County, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego residents.

Contact: Ron Chini

Phone: 888-901-3440

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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Richmond California Plans to Save Families From Foreclosure Through Eminent … – Truth


Eminent domain has been in the news the past few years because of how corporations and wealthy individuals are getting government agencies to use the power of public seizure of property for private gain.

That’s how, in large part, George W. Bush made a fortune with the Texas Rangers ballpark and surrounding land without having to risk a whole lot of money.  That is how the Keystone XL Pipeline is being moved across its southern leg whenever landowners put up resistance.

But now Richmond California, an impoverished city in the Bay Area where home prices have gone down not up, is strongly considering asserting eminent domain to seize homes from secondary lenders and re-sell them to their owners at current market value.

According to the New York Times, this has enraged banks and the secondary lenders who they sell underwater mortgages to.  In Richmond “roughly half of all homeowners with mortgages are underwater, meaning they owe more than their home is currently worth.”

Two-term Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin is adamant about proceeding:

Scarcely touched by the nation’s housing recovery and tired of waiting for federal help, Richmond is about to become the first city in the nation to try eminent domain as a way to stop foreclosures.

The results will be closely watched by both Wall Street banks, which have vigorously opposed the use of eminent domain to buy mortgages and reduce homeowner debt, and a host of cities across the country that are considering emulating Richmond.

The banks have warned that such a move will bring down a hail of lawsuits and all but halt mortgage lending in any city with the temerity to try it

McLaughlin remains unintimidated:

“We’re not willing to back down on this,” said … McLaughlin, the former schoolteacher who is serving her second term as Richmond’s mayor. “They can put forward as much pressure as they would like but I’m very committed to this program and I’m very committed to the well-being of our neighborhoods.”

Banks such as Bank of America frequently offload financially unstable mortgages to secondary lenders who then foreclose on the houses and then often re-sell them at significant profit.

Richmond, in the near future, will be hopefully taking a stand and using eminent domain for the public good, the citizens of the city who were, for the most part, the victims of predatory sub-prime mortgages.

(Photo: Steve Rhodes)

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