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Wells Fargo to give $4M to HOME to expand black home ownership

By Jeremy M. Lazarus

Five years ago, banking giant Wells Fargo paid more than $200 million to settle documented government allegations that it deliberately charged African-American borrowers higher fees and interest rates on home loans.

Two years ago, a Richmond study commissioned by City Councilwoman Ellen F. Robertson and undertaken by fair housing watchdog Housing Opportunities Made Equal found that major lenders, including Wells Fargo, denied mortgage loans to African-Americans at far higher rates, regardless of income.

HOME later conducted a compliance investigation of Wells Fargo to see if it continued such practices. HOME took the results to government regulators and directly to the bank for an explanation.

The findings have not been made public.

On Monday, HOME and Wells Fargo announced that the bank has agreed to provide $4 million to the nonprofit to help “increase home ownership opportunities for and expand lending to African-Americans and in African-American neighborhoods.”

The grant, essentially, is one way of Wells Fargo showing that it is trying to change.

The Richmond announcement dovetails with Wells Fargo’s commitment of $60 billion over the next 10 years to create at least 250,000 new African-American homeowners across the nation, bank officials said.

The grant to HOME includes $3 million, or $750,000 a year for four years, to enable the nonprofit to expand its counseling programs that assist primarily African-American families to qualify for mortgages or current homeowners to avoid foreclosure.

Wells Fargo also promised to provide HOME with $1 million, or $250,000 a year for four years, to enable the nonprofit to increase its ability to provide down payment assistance to potential buyers of modest means.

It is similar to the grants that Wells Fargo previously made to the cities of Baltimore and Memphis, Tenn., which sued the bank over biased lending in those cities.

Heather Crislip, HOME president and CEO, praised Wells Fargo for responding to HOME’s concerns. With Wells Fargo being the region’s largest mortgage lender, she said that the bank’s gift “will set the standard for others to follow.”

Ms. Crislip said the money would enable her group to work with families and individuals with incomes above 80 percent of the Richmond region’s median income, which is now $78,700 a year. The median income is about the midway point, with half of the people with higher incomes and half with lower incomes.

The 80 percent mark varies by family size, but now runs from a $43,500 annual maximum for one person to a $66,900 maximum for a family of four.

HOME receives about $1 million a year from Richmond, the state and other area governments to support its counseling services, but the funds are limited to serving those with incomes at or below 80 percent of the median.

“We often have to turn people away who need our help because their incomes are too high,” Ms. Crislip said. “Now we’ll be able to assist them.”

She said HOME counsels about 300 families a year and expects that number to increase to 450 families.

The group also provides about 80 families a year with down payment assistance, and expects the Wells Fargo grant to enable HOME to help an additional 33 families a year.

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Event center’s new owner seeks rebates, cash boost

TEXARKANA — The new owner of Texarkana’s Arkansas Convention Center made a pitch for a fresh financial partnership with the city Advertising and Promotion Commission.

At the commission’s quarterly meeting Thursday, James Naples requested $200,000 a year and a rebate of hotel and restaurant taxes collected at the convention center. The three commissioners in attendance tabled taking any action on the request.

Naples stressed that he wants to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the commission and city. Making the convention center a success will require partnership, he said.

“It’s something that we don’t feel like we can afford to do by ourselves. … I think if there’s some type of joint venture with the city and AP, that we can accelerate the programs that we’re starting now and then continue with them, and I think everybody would be pretty happy with them,” he said, touting sales and marketing efforts that have attracted more than 2,500 visitors to the convention center in June and July.

“You guys need help, we need help, and that’s why we’re here today. I think the request is fairly reasonable given the rate of return it’s going to have. We also want to partner with the city. Anything the city brings, anything they help us get, anything that we need help getting, we’re going to cost share it with you. We’re going to pay the expenses, we’re going to split the profits, and it’s a way to help you get some of this money back you’ve spent on this project,” Naples said.

Financial transparency is a top priority, he told the commission.

“This will be handled a little different than it was handled with the last owners, OK. This money all goes into an escrow account with strict accountability back to you to where the money’s being spent. I mean it’s only going to be spent on the convention center and the furtherance of the city. I have no desire to take this money and run with it,” Naples said.

Tim Johnson, a commission member and city director, expressed optimism about the city’s relationship with Naples.

“I think that this proposal that you have here, it makes me very excited as to the potential of the things that we can see take place here. I certainly hope that we can see a way to work some kind of partnership with you,” Johnson said.

Naples bought the convention center in April for $6.55 million. The convention center’s previous owner, Texarkana Hotels LLC, a company owned by Hiren Patel, filed for bankruptcy in April 2016 to avoid foreclosure of the property by MidSouth Bank, which was owed millions in unpaid loans.

Naples has asked a bankruptcy court to reconsider its ruling denying him certain tax benefits the commission awarded Patel. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for September.

Chief Judge Brenda Rhoades ruled that annual payments of $84,800 to the convention center from the Advertising and Promotion Commission will continue. The payments began in 2014 and are scheduled to end in 2020.

However, the judge denied the assignment of $150,000 annual payments negotiated between Patel and the commission, which began in 2011 and were to continue for 15 years. That agreement also included rebate of any city hotel and restaurant taxes the convention center paid during those years. Rhoades ruled the rebate will not transfer to Naples.

At Thursday’s meeting, the commission voted to recommend a new procedure for collecting the 3 percent hotel and 2 percent restaurant taxes it is in charge of allocating, including how to handle tax delinquencies. A city ordinance enacting the changes will now go before the Board of Directors for a vote.

Commission attorney Josh Potter developed the new system after researching what other Arkansas cities such as Little Rock and Conway have done, he said.

Anyone conducting business subject to hotel and restaurant taxes would need a permit from the commission to operate and would be required to file a monthly return showing gross receipts. The commission would have power to examine business records to determine the returns’ accuracy.

A business delinquent in paying its taxes would incur late penalty fees and risk losing its permit. If the delinquency continued, the commission could take action in court to stop a business from operating until full payment is made.

State Desk on 07/23/2017

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‘I’d rather go back to the war’: 84-year-old twins homeless after foreclosure

ORANGEVALE, Calif. – For 84 years, twin brothers Clifford and Gary Koekoek have done everything together.

They survived the Nazi occupation in their native Netherlands, together. They moved to the U.S. and briefly worked in Hollywood, together. They both served in the military. But now, they’ve become homeless, yet again – together.

“Right now, I’m broke,” Clifford told KTXL-TV. “Sometimes we don’t eat.”

In 2007, they wanted to fix the roof on their Orangevale, California home, which they say they bought from their mother. The house has been in their family since 1984.

“We took a loan thinking that we had a conventional loan,” said Gary.

But it wasn’t a conventional loan. It was an adjustable rate loan, meaning their payments got higher and higher over time.  Eventually, they couldn’t afford it, and the bank foreclosed on their house.

In October of last year, the twins were kicked out. The men had nowhere to turn and began sleeping together in a car they share.

When asked if they ever feel overwhelmed, Clifford responded, “I do … all the time,” as he fought back tears.

“I would almost say it’s hell,” said Gary.

The two say they spend most of their time now just walking. Both log plenty of hours at the Sacramento Public Library in Orangevale. Gary mostly pores over deed records, trying to find a way to get their house back.

But the odds aren’t good.

“They were just living in their car in front of Raley’s when I found out,” said Aaron Hoerner, a friend of the family for about ten years. He’s been making a social media push to find them permanent housing. The whole experience, he says, gives him a new perspective on homelessness.

“It’s easy to walk by and not look at their situation but if you stop and talk to somebody, everybody has a story,” said Hoerner.

Their story has certainly had its dramatic ups and downs. And at age 84, they seem to have hit their most difficult chapter.

“It’s a lot of stress. I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap,” said Clifford.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the brothers out. You can donate here.

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Foreclosure rate drops to all-time low in Twin Cities –

The foreclosure rate in the Twin Cities metro is at an all-time low and is now one of the lowest in the U.S.

It’s a development, however, that’s partly the result of underlying troubles in the housing market: a shortage of listings and tight credit.

During the first half of the year, the foreclosure rate in the seven-county metro fell 44 percent to just 0.17 percent, according to a midyear report from Attom Data Solutions. During that time, just 2,384 households received a foreclosure-related filing such as a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession. That ranks the Twin Cities 183rd among 217 metro areas tracked by Attom.

“With a few local market exceptions, foreclosures have become the unicorns of the housing market: hard to find but highly sought after,” said Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president and spokesman for Attom.

It’s a dramatic shift for a housing market that just a few years ago was drowning in heavily discounted property listings, creating a wide range of problems including depressed prices.

The situation was at its worst in 2010, when 15,306 households received a foreclosure filing.

In the Rochester metro area, just 41 foreclosure notices have been delivered so far this year. That puts the foreclosure rate in the region at just 0.05 percent, the third-lowest ranking in the nation.

Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic and has a diverse, stable economy that has largely been immune to much of the volatility that other areas experienced before and after the recession of 2007-09. That means house prices also haven’t been as volatile, said Jeff Byrd, broker at ReMax Results in Rochester.

Fewer risky loans

Byrd also said that because Rochester is a relatively small, close-knit community there’s been very little predatory lending and risky loan-making, practices that helped trigger the foreclosure crisis in the first place.

“That didn’t happen in Rochester,” Byrd said. “People just didn’t do loans that weren’t right.”

Nationwide, just 0.32 percent of all housing units had a foreclosure filing in the first half of 2017, a 20 percent decline from the same period a year ago.

During that period, 203,875 properties started the foreclosure process, the lowest six-month total since the second half of 2005, the earliest data available. Attom said only 28 of the nation’s 217 metro areas saw an annual increase in foreclosure activity during the first half of the year.

The foreclosure stats are the lowest since Attom began tracking them in the mid-2000s.

Rock-bottom rates suggest that listing inventory of both traditional and distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) is dangerously low, leading to the purchase of even the most distressed property listings.

The situation is also a sign that mortgage underwriting may be too strict, keeping out prospective buyers.

“There’s a trade-off,” Blomquist said. “You don’t want lending too loose so that you introduce too much risk to [the] market and too many foreclosures, but if your credit is too tight only a very select few people can afford to buy or qualify to buy.”



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Gucci’s Décor Line; Johnny Depp’s Foreclosure Issue

Introducing #GucciDécor: a lineup of furniture and decorative pieces designed by #AlessandroMichele to personalize home spaces, featuring the House’s design motifs, patterns and codes. Gucci Décor will be launching in September on and in select Gucci and specialty stores. Illustration by @alexmerryart.

A post shared by Gucci (@gucci) on Jul 12, 2017 at 6:21am PDT

All the celebrity design and real estate news you missed this week.

Introducing Gucci home: Gucci is making the foray into home décor. Creative director Alessandro Michele announced via Instagram this week that the fashion house will be launching Gucci Decor in September, and the pieces will include chairs, candles, pillows and more. via Architectural Digest.

Event planning: American Express rented the infamous Grey Gardens house for this summer in order to throw events at the East Hampton estate, but they’ve run into a problem already. Village officials sent Amex a cease and desist letter, noting that the home is a residence and cannot be used for commercial purposes. via Page Six.

Celebrity dormitory: Rebel Wilson is joining Jake Gyllenhaal, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Harry Styles, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Meg Ryan and Jennifer Lawrence in the celebrity-filled Tribeca building 443 Greenwich. The actress paid $2.95 million for a two-bedroom apartment in the New York condo. via WWD.

Whisper listings: Katy Perry wants to sell her Hollywood Hills compound, and is apparently low-key shopping it around for about $15 million, without listing it on the public market. It makes sense she’d want to sell it now, considering she reportedly bought a Beverly Hills mansion for just under $20 million in April. via Variety.

More legal woes: Johnny Depp’s legal and financial struggles aren’t over yet. The actor has asked a court to stop proceedings to foreclose on one of his Los Angeles homes—the house was used as collateral for a $5 million loan back in 2012, and the foreclosure proceedings began in 2016. via Bloomberg.

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Chicago Cab Drivers Protest Rising Foreclosures « CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Dozens of cab drivers protested Tuesday morning outside the office of LOMTO Federal Credit Union’s Chicago legal representatives, 661 W. Grand.

“I say lawsuits, you say no, no! Taxis, taxis, you say yes, yes!” chanted protestors.

Chicago’s roughly 2,000 taxi cab-driving, medallion owners are affected by what they are calling a foreclosure crisis.

Dozens of cab drivers protested Tuesday morning against rising foreclosures. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“We’ve been suffering from a lot of unfair practices,” said Nmamdi Uwazie, Representative, Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500.

“Over 100, 120 have been foreclosed upon and taken to court. We are here to let LOMTO know that this isn’t the making of the drivers. It’s the competition. It’s the ride sharing situation,” he said. “It is making it very, very hard for the drivers to fulfill their own obligations. We are asking for a way it can be restructured so drivers can pay for the medallion and take care of their families.”

Since October, lenders have filed lawsuits against at least 107 medallion owners who have fallen behind on loan payments, by to the union’s count.

One sign read, “my medallion is my life: life savings, retirement, family’s future. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Uwazie said the falling value of medallions has impacted credit markets and more taxi drivers are falling into foreclosure.

“You have to have a medallion to practice as a taxi driver in Chicago. It’s valued between $360,000 and $400,000 a few years ago. Now it’s only valued at about $44,000,” he said.

Uwazie said the union has gone to the city to urge less regulations and reduce the burden on small taxi owners.

“For you to be a cab driver, you have to go to class, take an exam, know the geography of the city, you have to go for a drug test, pay a fee and again, taxis also have to be green, environmentally friendly. The city mandated every medallion owner to have an environmentally friendly automobile,” he said.

Another sign read, “Taxi Service Matters.” (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

In June 2014, the City of Chicago enacted a two-tier regulatory system that opened the taxi market to tens of thousands of for-hire vehicles.

The Union said the taxi industry is over regulated and its created unfair competition between ride share operators like Uber and Lyft, and cab drivers, many of whom invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in medallions.

Uwazie said his business has been cut in half since ride sharing came to town.

“Now, even if you put into 14-16 hours a day, you can’t make even half of what you used to,” he said.

Nmamdi Uwazie said the falling value of medallions has impacted credit markets and more taxi drivers are falling into foreclosure. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Unable to keep up with loan payments coupled with high operating costs, hundreds of taxi owner/operators are facing foreclosure on their medallions.

Uwazie said thousands more are likely to face the same fate unless the city takes substantial action to reduce the burden on small taxi owners.

LOMTO is one of the leading lenders in the taxi industry. Drivers are calling on LOMTO to stop the foreclosures while the union works with the city to enact relief measures that will allow drivers to survive and compete.

“We are asking this law firm to stop the foreclosures. It’s hurting families. Let us see where we can restructure these loans,” he said.

“I say lawsuits, you say no, no! Taxis, taxis, you say yes, yes!” chanted protestors outside the office of LOMTO (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

According to union statistics, 39 percent, or about 2,700 of Chicago’s medallions are owned by individuals who own four or fewer taxis.

Nine-hundred medallions are currently in foreclosure with more than 700 are surrendered to the city.
While the median net income per medallion was $19,000 in 2013, as of 2016 it stands at -$4,000.

Article source:

Homeless, 84-year-old war veteran twins say ‘it’s hell’ after home …

Clifford and Gary Koekoek, 84-year-old twins who’ve survived living under Nazi occupation and fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, are now in “hell” and sleeping in their car after a bank foreclosed on their California home in October.

Born in the Netherlands, Clifford and Gary grew up under Nazi rule before coming to the U.S., where the brothers worked in Hollywood and then served their new country at war. But the brothers told FOX 40 Sacramento nothing they’ve lived through compares to their current predicament.

“It’s a lot of stress,” Clifford said, holding back tears. “I’d rather go back to the war and get shot at, than this crap.”

The Koekoek’s recent housing plight started in 2007, when the brothers wanted to fix the roof on a Fair Oaks home they bought from their mother, and which had been in their family since 1984.

“We took a loan thinking that we had a conventional loan,” Gary said.

The loan, however, turned out to be an adjustable rate loan, with payments getting higher over time — until the two couldn’t afford it. After their home was foreclosed, the two were kicked out and began sleeping in one shared car.


“Right now, I’m broke,” Clifford told FOX 40. “Sometimes, we don’t eat.”

The two now spend most of their time just walking the streets and sitting at the Sacramento Public Library in neighboring Orangevale. Gary said he spends most of his time looking over deed records to figure out how the twins can win their home back.

“I would almost say it’s hell,” Gary said.

A friend of the family is now trying to help, launching a social media push and a GoFundMe account to help find the two men permanent housing.

Aaron Hoerner told FOX 40 the experience has given him a new perspective on homelessness.

“It’s easy to walk by and not look at their situation. But if you stop and talk to somebody, everybody has a story,” he said.

Article source:

Fifth Third’s eBus benefits the financial future of local residents

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) – Fifth Third’s eBus Financial Empowerment Mobile is rolling into West Michigan this summer in hopes to help meet challenges faced by our communities that have been traditionally underserved by banks. The eBus is a city bus that has been modified and staffed with professionals who are ready to offer free help. The goal of the eBus is to meet residents of the area where they reside with financial services. They hope this will benefit the financial future of those that they are able to reach.

Nearly 400,000 people have gotten on board with Fifth Third’s Financial Empowerment Mobile. Aboard the eBus there is help with requesting credit reports, financial education modules, fraud awareness and prevention information, workforce development, home ownership seminars, and how to avoid foreclosure. The bus is up and running with its own internet connectivity and onboard computer workstations, making it just like a mobile classroom. You don’t want to miss this:

Thursday, July 20th at Grandville Avenue Financial Homeownership Fair 1205

Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

from 10am-2pm

Friday, July 21st at Michigan Works! Southwest

1601 S Burdick St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

from 10am-2pm

Wednesday, July 26th at Goodwill Industries

271 E Apple Ave, Muskegon, MI, 49442

from 10am-2pm

Thursday, July 27th at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center

2500 S. Division Avenue, Grand Rapids, MI 49507

from 1pm-5pm

Friday, July 28th at Community Action House

345 W 14th Street, Holland, MI 49423

To find out more about Fifth Thirds eBus mission and dates visit

Related Posts

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Otsego releases tax-foreclosure list

Otsego County has announced its annual Tax Foreclosure Real Estate Action will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16 at the Holiday Inn at 5206 State Route 23 in Oneonta with 71 items up for bid.

The deadline for tax delinquencies to avoid the auction passed at the end of last month. 

This is the first year in which property owners who are struggling to pay their taxes could work out a payment plan with County Treasurer Dan Crowell. However since the new law, which was passed in May, 13-0, with Rep. James Powers absent, begins with this year’s taxes, it is not a law that had an effect on this year’s auction. 

Properties on this year’s list have unpaid back taxes dating back to 2013. 

The list includes nine properties in the city of Oneonta and three more in the town of Oneonta. Most of the properties on the list are vacant houses, but there are many vacant lots, as well as a couple of storefronts, including one in the village of Edmeston and another on Route 20 in the town of Springfield. 

To view the entire list, go to:    

Reigstration for the auction begins at 9 a.m. on the day of the event. Early registration will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14 at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta. A bidder’s seminar will take place at 7 p.m. following early registration. 

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August hot date for land auction

Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017 6:00 am

Updated: 9:29 am, Fri Jul 21, 2017.

August hot date for land auction

By JOHN MATUSZAK – HP Staff Writer

The Herald-Palladium


ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County’s 25th land auction of foreclosed properties is set for Aug. 22, and the listing of available houses and lots is available through Treasurer Bret Witkowski’s office and the county website.

The auction will be held at the DANK, 2651 Pipestone Road, Sodus Township, with registration starting at 8 a.m., and bidding starting at 9:30 a.m. No registrations will be available after that time. A follow-up auction for unsold properties will be Oct. 3.

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      Friday, July 21, 2017 6:00 am.

      Updated: 9:29 am.

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