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Watchdog outlines proposed foreclosure rules

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed additional measures to ensure that homeowners and struggling borrowers are treated fairly by mortgage servicers. The proposal would require servicers to provide certain borrowers with foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan, to put in place additional servicing transfer protections and to take steps to protect borrowers from a wrongful foreclosure sale. The proposition would also help ensure that surviving family members and others who inherit or receive property have the same protections under the CFPB’s mortgage servicing rules as the original borrower.

“The Consumer Bureau is committed to ensuring that homeowners and struggling borrowers are treated fairly by mortgage servicers and that no one is wrongly foreclosed upon,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s proposal would give greater protections to mortgage borrowers.”

The current rules, which went into effect on Jan. 10, require mortgage servicers to maintain accurate records, give troubled borrowers direct and ongoing access to servicing personnel, promptly credit payments and correct errors on request, according to the CFPB.

Highlights from the CFPB’s proposal:

  • Require servicers to provide certain borrowers with foreclosure protections more than once over the life of the loan: Currently, a mortgage servicer must give the borrower certain foreclosure protections, including the right to be evaluated under the CFPB’s requirements for options to avoid foreclosure, only once during the life of the loan. Under the proposed rule, servicers would have to give those protections again for borrowers who have brought their loans current at any time since the last loss mitigation application. CFPB said the change would help borrowers who obtain a permanent loan modification and later suffer an unrelated hardship— such as the loss of a job or the death of a family member— that could otherwise cause them to face foreclosure.
  • Expand consumer protections to surviving family members and other homeowners: If a borrower dies, CFPB rules currently require that servicers promptly identify and communicate with family members, heirs, or other parties— known as “successors in interest”— who have a legal interest in the home. Today’s proposal would expand the circumstances in which consumers would be considered successors under the rules. The expanded circumstances include when a property is transferred after a divorce, legal separation, through a family trust, between spouses, from a parent to a child or when a joint tenant borrower dies.
  • Require servicers to notify borrowers when loss mitigation applications are complete: When a borrower completes a loss mitigation application, key foreclosure protections take effect. If consumers do not know the status of their applications, they cannot know the status of their foreclosure protections, said the CFPB. The proposal would require servicers to notify borrowers promptly that the application is complete, so that borrowers know the status of the application and their protections.
  • Protect struggling borrowers during servicing transfers: The proposition clarifies that generally a transferee servicer must comply with the loss mitigation requirements within the same timeframes that applied to the transferor servicer. If the borrower’s application was complete prior to the transfer, the new servicer generally must evaluate it within 30 days of when the prior servicer received it. For involuntary transfers, the proposal would give the new servicer at least 15 days after the transfer date to evaluate a complete application. If the new servicer needs more information in order to evaluate the application, the borrower would retain some foreclosure protections in the meantime.
  • Clarify servicers’ obligations to avoid dual-tracking and wrongful foreclosures: The new rule would clarify what steps servicers and their foreclosure counsel must take to protect borrowers from a wrongful foreclosure sale. The regulator is suggesting that servicers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent the sale must dismiss a pending foreclosure action. The measures would aid servicers in complying with, and assist courts in applying, the dual-tracking prohibitions in foreclosure proceedings to prevent wrongful foreclosures.
  • Clarify when a borrower becomes delinquent: The proposal would simplify that delinquency begins on the day a borrower fails to make a periodic payment. When a borrower misses a payment but later makes it up, if the servicer applies that payment to the oldest outstanding periodic payment, the date of delinquency advances. The proposal also would allow servicers the discretion, under certain circumstances, to consider a borrower as having made a timely payment even if the borrower’s payment falls short of a full payment by a small amount.
  • Provide more information to borrowers in bankruptcy: The additional measures would require servicers to provide periodic statements to borrowers facing bankruptcy. Under the current rules, servicers do not have to provide certain disclosures to borrowers who have told the servicer to stop contacting them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. With these changes, servicers would be required to provide written early intervention notices to let those borrowers know about loss mitigation options.

Click here to read the full proposal.

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State lawmaker attempts to change foreclosure law after local woman’s battle …

LANSING, Mich. — One state lawmaker is trying to change Michigan’s foreclosure law after hearing about a local woman’s battle to keep her home.

Sen. Rick Jones said FOX 17′s coverage of Deborah Calley brought his attention to an issue that impacts homeowners statewide.

Calley’s home was foreclosed after she missed a single property tax payment in 2011. Under state law, after three years of being delinquent, the county can take the home.

While there’s no question the county should get what’s owed to them, homeowners in several counties began expressing their concerns to FOX 17 about the fact that the county can sell it and rake in huge profits . While it’s legal, Sen. Jones said it shouldn’t be.

“I absolutely believe that a county should be able to take a home if you don’t pay your taxes for three years,” Sen. Jones said. “Those taxes are so important to pay for roads, police, fire and schools. However, when they’re making a profit, I think that’s wrong.”

In January, Jones said he will introduce a bill that if passed, would only allow for the government to take the money it’s owed and give the rest back to the homeowner after selling the property.

Under the current law, Calley, who paid about $165,000 cash for her home, will not see one cent of it once it’s sold by the county.

“The tax bill was $1,200. With the penalties it’s just hovering under $2,000,” Calley said. “At the auction, they sold it for $81,000. So, what’s that–a $79,000 profit.”

It’s a consequence that most homeowners, including Calley, think is extreme.

“It’s a house. It’s money. Money comes, money goes,” she said. “The big picture is the law. This should never, ever happen to anybody.”

Sen. Jones agrees.

“The county should get that $2,000. They should get all the penalties. They should get all the fees. They should get the cost of the auction–that’s reasonable,” Sen. Jones said. “Should it profit? I don’t think so.”

In September, Kalamazoo County treasurer Mary Balkema told FOX 17 the Property Tax Act doesn’t bring in the massive surplus for the county like people think.

“It’s a pool of money that we use to increase the tax base,” Balkema said. “There’s some good properties that subsidize the bad properities.”

Basically, Balkema means the profits from one property can make up the difference for the properties that don’t sell.

However, Sen. Jones said homeowners like Calley shouldn’t lose it all to keep the county in the black.

“It’s obvious to me that some treasurers think that they need to make a profit from some poor person to compensate for the ones where they make nothing and I don’t agree,” Sen. Jones said. “I don’t believe that one situation has anything to do with another.”

Jones said the bill will bring in some opposition. With 83 counties in Michigan, he said he expects that all 83 treasurers will be lobbying against it.

“They never want something to stop that is bringing in money,” Sen. Jones said. “The bottom line is it`s your home. We had a revolution about the government coming in from England and taking our homes. We don`t believe in that in this country.”


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CFPB Proposes to Expand Foreclosure Protections

CFPB Foreclosure Protection


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed on Thursday an additional set of measures designed to expand foreclosure protections for mortgage borrowers.

In an announcement Thursday afternoon, CFPB detailed the latest additions to its mortgage servicing rules, which first went into effect earlier this year. Since that time, the bureau says it has continued to engage in outreach with consumer advocacy groups, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to develop additional provisions to protect consumers and make it easier for companies to comply with the rules.

“The Consumer Bureau is committed to ensuring that homeowners and struggling borrowers are treated fairly by mortgage servicers and that no one is wrongly foreclosed upon,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “Today’s proposal would give greater protections to mortgage borrowers.”

Chief among the proposed rules would be a requirement that servicers must provide additional foreclosure protections to borrowers who have already worked through the loss mitigation process previously and recovered.

Under the current rules, servicers are already required to provide certain protections, including the right to be evaluated under CFPB requirements for foreclosure avoidance options once during the life of the mortgage.

The proposed rule would require servicers to offer those same protections again for borrowers who have brought their loans current at any time since the last loss mitigation application. The bureau says the rule is largely designed to protect those who obtain a permanent loan modification and then later suffer an unrelated hardship that could create additional struggles, such as a job loss or the death of a family member.

Also included in the proposal are a number of provisions to improve borrower/servicer communications and to clarify previous regulations:

  • Protections for mortgage heirs: Currently, servicers are required to identify and communicate with surviving family members or heirs, called successors in interest, in the event of a borrower’s death. The latest proposal would expand the bureau’s definition of a successor to account for more situations, including when a property is transferred after a divorce, legal separation, through a family trust, between spouses, from a parent to a child, or when a borrower who is a joint tenant dies. The proposal would also ensure those confirmed as successors receive the same foreclosure protections as the original borrower.
  • Communications regarding loss mitigation applications: Servicers would be required to notify borrowers when their loss mitigation applications are complete and when their foreclosure protections kick in.
  • Working with borrowers during servicing transfers: The proposal offers clarifications to previous rules dealing with servicing rights transfers between firms. Under the rule, if a borrower’s loss mitigation application was complete prior to the transfer, the new servicer must evaluate it within 30 days of when the prior servicers received it. For involuntary transfers, the new servicer has 15 days from the date of the transfer.
  • Providing information to bankrupt borrowers: The proposal would generally require servicers to provide periodic loss mitigation information and other statements to borrowers in bankruptcy with information geared specifically to them. Servicing firms must also provide written early intervention notices to let those borrowers known about their loss mitigation options even after they’ve been told to stop contact.
  • Clarifying dual-tracking and wrongful foreclosure requirements: While CFPB already has rules in place prohibiting servicers from engaging in foreclosure proceedings and loss mitigation efforts at the same time, the bureau says that “in some cases, borrowers are not receiving this protection and servicers’ foreclosure counsel may not be taking adequate steps” to delay the foreclosure. The clarified proposal would outline the steps servicers and their counsel must take to avoid a wrongful foreclosure sale.
  • Clarifying the meaning of “delinquency”: CFPB’s proposal would clarify that, for the purpose of its servicing rules, “delinquency” begins on the day a borrower fails to make a periodic payment. If that payment is later made up, the bureau proposes that the date of delinquency should be pushed up. The new rule would also create room for servicers to consider a payment as “timely” under certain circumstances even if it’s not the full payment.

A full summary of the proposal, including additional measures, can be found at CFPB’s web site. The rule and disclosures will be open for public comment for 90 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

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Hutcheson To File For Chapter 11

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Loan Servicer Busted for Backdating, But Foreclosure Victims Say Shenanigans …

Chris Wyatt, a mortgage servicing executive of 20 years turned homeowners’ advocate, says he’s seen many homeowners run ragged on Ocwen’s modification roller coaster.

On October 24, Ron Faris, CEO of Ocwen Financial, made an unusual move for the head of a $2 billion-a-year corporation: He apologized. Specifically, he sent out a mea culpa-filled open letter addressing the 2.7 million homeowners whose mortgages are serviced by Ocwen, apologizing for a glitch that backdated time-sensitive letters. “Letters were dated when the decision was made to create the letter versus when the letter was actually created,” Faris confessed. The missive came on the heels of well-publicized allegations by New York’s Dept of Financial Services (DFS) accusing the company of doing just that, and suggesting that the delayed loan modification letters may have resulted in foreclosures. At first, Faris claimed that only 283 New York homeowners had been impacted. However, he quickly retreated from that number after DFS said the number could be higher, way higher—perhaps in the “hundreds of thousands”—and not confined to New York. 

The Faris letter was clearly damage control, an attempt to staunch the bleeding and send a message to the investment community following a Moody’s credit downgrade and a precipitous drop in Ocwen stock, which dropped to $19.04 on October 23 and fell again to $18.55 on October 27, the lowest price since June 2012. 

This isn’t the first time that Ocwen has had to circle the wagons in response to jabs and uppercuts by New York DFS Superintendent Ben Lawsky, who’s developed a reputation as somewhat of a regulatory Popeye, taking on the servicing industry with a zeal matched only by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a few other left-minded Congress members. Lawsky’s prime targets have been non-bank servicers like Ocwen—companies that saw a cash cow in the growing desire of mega-banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America to shed their so-called “toxic” sub-prime mortgage portfolios in the wake of litigation and regulation from 2010’s “Foreclosuregate.” As Lawsky noted in an address earlier this year to the New York Bankers Association, these non-bank mortgage servicers have bought up a significant share of U.S. mortgages:

[In 2011, all of the ten largest mortgage servicers were traditional banks. Today, four of the top ten are non-banks. And those four non-bank firms alone service more than a trillion dollars of loans—10 percent of the residential mortgage market, and climbing.

Lawsky has held Ocwen’s feet to the fire over allegations of robo-signing and a failure to provide reviews of loan modification denials. In December 2012, DFS required Ocwen to install an independent monitor to ensure that the company adhered to promises to stop consumer-unfriendly practices. It’s questionable whether the monitoring is having the intended effect. Just this May, the New York Post reported that the company was trying to “gag” homeowners who wanted a loan modification approved, reportedly telling them not to complain to anyone—regulators or the press—or else. After DFS looked into the matter, Ocwen agreed not to enforce these gag orders.

Chris Wyatt, a mortgage servicing executive of 20 years turned homeowners’ advocate, says he’s seen many homeowners run ragged on Ocwen’s modification roller coaster. He’s heard complaints of all kinds: from inexplicable penalties and fees, to mortgage payments not applied by the due date, and hair-pulling accounts of time spent on the phone with customer service representatives trying to get anything resembling accurate information (I’ve covered some of this terrain in two previous In These Times pieces).

This spring, Wyatt shared his concerns about backdated communications with New York’s DFS and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It seems DFS took note, evidenced by its investigation. Samuel Gilford, a CFPB spokesperson, didn’t want to comment specifically on Wyatt’s communications, although there’s no doubt the bureau has an eye on Ocwen. In December 2013, after uncovering servicing shenanigans that included illegal foreclosures and unauthorized fees and penalties, the CFPB joined 49 state attorney generals and the District of Columbia in securing a consent order requiring Ocwen to provide homeowners with $2 billion in principal reductions and return $125 million to foreclosure victims. In a press release, CFPB said that Ocwen “took advantage of borrowers at every step of the process.”

But Wyatt is concerned that regulators aren’t moving with alacrity to deal with backdating, which, he says, continues to claim new victims each day. One homeowner he’s working with (who requested anonymity) received a default notice dated October 23 that wasn’t delivered until November 3.  According to Wyatt, it’s standard industry practice to get a default notice out immediately, since a 30-day clock starts running from the date on the notification. A check of post office records confirmed that the letter was mailed two days after the October 23 date. Such delays shorten the window of opportunity for desperate homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure.

Tommy Cooper, a homeowner in Manvel, Texas, is not sure whether he’s been subject to backdating, but the maze of confusing communications he’s received from Ocwen in the course of a months-long battle against foreclosure have caused him considerable distress—and made a mockery of Ocwen’s trademarked slogan, “Helping Homeowners is What We Do.”

In April 2012, Ocwen told Cooper that his home had been sold off in foreclosure. The news threw him for a loop because he had just applied for a loan modification through Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a non-profit advocacy group that has a strong record of helping struggling homeowners stay in place. Although told that a real estate trust now owned his house, Cooper kept living there while trying to work with local housing counselors in seeking a new modification.

After a series of applications and denials, he received a loan modification offer from Ocwen on February 22, 2013. Ocwen claims he rejected the offer. However, Cooper says he simply asked for more information and faxed over a list of questions supplied by NACA. They were all standard issue (“please provide an escrow analysis; please provide a breakdown of my unpaid principle balance”)

A letter dated July 28, 2014, from an Ocwen “ombudsman” to the Consumer Protection Division in the Texas Attorney General’s office, following a complaint by Cooper, also leaves out the February 2013 offer and alleged denial in listing his loan history. According to Wyatt, this sort of omission is extremely serious; any letter to state’s top law enforcement official should have been vetted for completeness.   

When I asked Ocwen about the denial, and why there was no response to Cooper’s questions, the company declined to comment.

The pain and frustration of the ordeal, Cooper says, was enough to send him into that dark land that many foreclosure victims know all too well: relentless anxiety and sleepless nights. For the past two years he’s been on anti-depression meds. When we started talking, the first thing on his mind was to convince me that he wasn’t a “deadbeat,” the sort of blame-the-victim label slapped on underwater homeowners by folks like CNBC blowhard Rick Santelli (“How many of you people want to pay your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?”). Cooper gave me a list of friends and relatives to talk to; people who could attest to his veracity as a stand-up guy. One was talk show host, author and advocate Tavis Smiley.

“He’s concerned about the suffering of others,” Tavis Smiley told me by phone, “and that’s the tragic irony of this situation. Having spent a life in service to others, he now finds himself as a victim of this system.” Smiley went on to talk about Cooper’s involvement in training young people in a “Youth to Leaders Program” and an initiative titled “Ending Poverty:America’s Silent Spaces.”  

Cooper, who is still struggling to keep his home, sent me some recent examples of Ocwen’s Gatling gun approach to homeowner communications. This October, he received three separate letters from Ocwen within a day of each other: one acknowledging receipt of an application, one denying a loan modification, and one thanking Tommy for his inquiry regarding his loan and saying his application is under review. Cooper says none of these letters came in response to any requests he made. It seems that Ocwen’s computers have gone rogue, like HAL in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

On November 13, Cooper was dragged into county court by lawyers representing representing Deutsche Bank, the trustee of the real estate trust that now owns his house. The court ruled that he had until November 24 to get himself and his possessions out the door. If he wanted to appeal, he’d have to fork over a bond of $34,680.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Lawsky may be leaving his post at the end of the year. His spokesperson, Matthew Anderson, tells In These Times, “He loves his job and is very busy doing it to the best of his ability each day. He hasn’t decided on his plans for the future.”

One can only hope that he stays the course. He’s been a homeowner’s best friend during very trying times.

Incidentally, right after the news broke about a possible Lawsky departure, Ocwen’s stock rose.

Article source:

Stop panicking about recent foreclosure numbers

I was afraid that this might happen.

When RealtyTrac reported that October foreclosure activity was up 15% compared to September, I braced myself, waiting for the inevitable Chicken Little headlines predicting a new foreclosure tsunami, a massive housing market meltdown and quite probably the end of civilization as we know it.

Sadly, I wasn’t disappointed.

So, are we about to see housing Armageddon? Do these ominous increases in foreclosure activity mean that the market is about to implode?

No. Not even close. Allow me to explain.

It’s true that RealtyTrac reported an increase in overall foreclosure activity in October (a month, it should be pointed out, when foreclosure activity goes up almost every year). But despite some industry analysts pointing to these numbers as “proof” of a surge in foreclosures or of weakness in the housing market, it’s important to keep the numbers in their proper context.

First of all, the most important metric in the RealtyTrac report is that foreclosure activity was actually down 8% on a year-over-year basis, the continuation of a downward trend that started in late 2010, and hasn’t stopped since.

Second, it’s very important to parse the RealtyTrac numbers to see what actually caused the month over month spike. The increase was entirely comprised of properties entering the final stages of foreclosure – those scheduled for auctions, and those repossessed by the lenders. Repossessions were up 22% compared to the prior month, but down 26% from October of 2013. Properties scheduled for foreclosure auctions were up 24% from the prior month and up 7% from 2013. Foreclosure starts – which actually would be indicative of a new wave of activity – were down.

So what to make of these numbers? Do they really indicate a real increase in foreclosure activity? Again, no they don’t, if you understand what the numbers represent.

Neither of the two areas of foreclosure activity that spiked in October represents “new” or “rising” foreclosures. In fact, virtually all of the loans in these later stages of the foreclosure process have been in the system for quite some time. According to RealtyTrac, over 78% of all loans in foreclosure were originated in 2008 or earlier. All we’re seeing happen now is that extraordinarily delinquent loans that should have been foreclosed on years ago are finally working their way through the system. In most cases, these are loans on which the borrowers haven’t made a single payment in two or three (or more) years. These are not “new” foreclosures by any definition: it’s taken 1,000 days to move one of these properties through the foreclosure process in New York and New Jersey; 900 days in Illinois and Florida. These foreclosures are more like an echo of the market downturn we had from 2008 to 2011 than they are a clarion call of a new problem.

But aren’t all these loans going to auction or being repossessed an indication of a weak housing market? Ironically, just the opposite. Home price appreciation over the past few years has reduced the losses that lenders might incur by selling properties at a foreclosure auction, so we’re seeing more auctions (and fewer short sales). And inventory insufficient to meet demand at the low end of the market makes it possible to sell REO homes almost as soon as they’re made available, so we’re seeing more repossessions and very active marketing of these properties in short order.

There’s simply no objective, rational way to support the notion that we’re experiencing – or should expect – another wave of foreclosure activity. RealtyTrac data have shown year over year declines in foreclosure activity for several years running. TransUnion reported that mortgage delinquencies have dropped by 17% over the past year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, in its recent third quarter National Delinquency Survey, noted that delinquency rates are at their lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2007, and foreclosure starts at their lowest level in eight years.

And there’s simply no way at all to tie this foreclosure activity to any real – or imagined – weakness in the housing market. There are no conditions in the market that are causing these foreclosure actions, and the actions themselves are having virtually no effect whatsoever on the market itself.

We’re not completely out of the woods yet. Foreclosure rates, while about half what they were at the peak of the crisis, are still roughly twice what they would be in a normal market. But once the backlog of seriously delinquent – and seriously aged – loans finally works its way through the system, it’s likely that we’ll settle in at foreclosure rates even lower than what they’d normally be (thanks in no small part to the incredibly tight credit conditions we’ve seen over the past few years).

The crisis has passed. The patient is well on the way to a full recovery. Patience, not panic, is the order of the day.




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3 Wrigley rooftops face foreclosure lawsuit, report says – WLS

Three of the Wrigley rooftop properties have been hit with a foreclosure lawsuit, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The properties sit at 3616, 3619 and 3637 North Sheffield Avenue.

The bank said the owners did not keep up with mortgage payments and now owe $36 million.

Right now, some owners are trying to stop the construction of video screens at Wrigley Field, which could block the view from the rooftops. That construction is already underway.

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What Happens AFTER Foreclosure in California?

Los Angeles, CA — (ReleaseWire) — 11/17/2014 — Getting your Equity after Foreclosure. In the event that a home is sold as the result of foreclosure, there is often equity left for home owners who invested in their loans for many years in the state of California.

During the foreclosure process in California, a sale trustee must deposit what are called ‘surplus funds’ into an account and then contact the prior home or property owner. These are funds that remain when the sale price at auction is more than what is owed on a mortgage. In simple terms, any equity that remains after a foreclosure sale must be returned to the prior owner.

The claim process is time consuming and technical and often requires the assistance of a real estate attorney that has deep experience in the foreclosure process and fully understands what happens after foreclosure in California . For instance, knowing how to proceed with the trustee and the court to obtain the surplus funds.

Attorney Lauren Rode, stresses the importance of an attorney collection of surplus funds after foreclosure at Consumer Action Law Group. “You must file a pleading with the court that states how much your claim is and what you believe your priority to be.” After a set time, the court then orders who gets what. Some non-judicial states may require other actions by claimants to qualify for an excess funds disbursement, so checking with an attorney is always advised.

Surplus funds must be paid to the prior owner at the end of the sale. California surplus foreclosure funds can be recovered with the help from a real estate attorney. A real estate law firm can recover surplus foreclosure funds and even help stop an eviction. The best place to find information for claiming surplus funds after foreclosure sale is to contact one of the real estate attorneys at

About Consumer Action Law Group
Consumer Action Law Group is a law firm dedicated to help clients in consumer-related matters. The lawyers in the team are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of financial distress, mortgages, and foreclosures. They have the experience to successfully pursue financial matters for the benefit of homeowners, tenants and others.

For Media Inquiries:
Contact Person: Chuck Panzarella
Telephone: (818) 465-5861

For more information on this press release visit:

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Foreclosure Defense Attorney California Explains How to Stop a Trustee Sale

(MENAFN Press)

Los Angeles CA – California has some of the most progressive laws to help distressed homeowners Consumer Action Law Group provides legal solutions to  stop trustee sale  and saves homes from going to auction.

Very few people are aware of the laws in California that are designed to assist homeowners who receive a notice of trustee sale.  Under the foreclosure laws of California a homeowner must receive a call from their lender to explore alternatives to foreclosure in the case of a loan default.  This call is often considered to be the first step in the foreclosure process and a homeowner is left with other options to save his/her home.  The attorneys of Consumer Action Law Group know how to stop a trustee sale even if a  notice of trustee sale auction  indicates that a sale is imminent.

Attorney Kenley Dygert of the Group has deep experience with the best legal methods to stop foreclosure. He sates “A homeowner should discuss his/her case with a law firm that has expertise in dealing with foreclosure cases. We know  how to stop a trustee sale  and act swiftly and legally to protect our client’s home from going to auction.”  The attorneys of the Group offer free advice and the objective is to help homeowners exercise their legal rights to protect their homes. The lawyers are well-versed in the Californian foreclosure law and they devise the best legal solution to avoid a foreclosure or defer the foreclosure auction sale date.

When seeking a  foreclosure defense attorney California  offers laws that are very favorable for homeowners.  A homeowner who is facing foreclosure should absolutely seek the best available legal assistance to stop a trustee sale auction.  Consumer Action Law Group advises against hiring a  loan modification attorney Los Angeles  residents have other options that are better.  Homeowners in California facing foreclosure should call and talk to a lawyer for free today.  Distressed homeowners can also learn more about their stop foreclosure legal solutions on the website

About Consumer Action Law Group

Consumer Action Law Group is a law firm dedicated to help clients in consumer-related matters. The lawyers in the team are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of financial distress mortgages and foreclosures. They have the experience to successfully pursue financial matters for the benefit of homeowners tenants and others.

For Media Inquiries:
Contact Person: Chuck Panzarella
Telephone: (818) 465-5861

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America’s Troubled War on Homelessness

By Teresa Wiltz

Right now, ground zero in the debate about policies affecting the homeless isn’t a large, bustling metropolis like New York or Chicago, but Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a small beach city of about 170,000.

On the one hand, there’s Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old World War II vet and chef who has been feeding the homeless in the city’s parks and beaches for decades—and who says he has no intention of stopping, despite a new ordinance passed last month restricting feeding in public places. Efforts to stop him, including three citations in the past couple weeks, have drawn a national spotlight.

On the other hand, there is the very exasperated Mayor Jack Seiler, who says the city’s new outdoor feeding law is a part of a series of “very compassionate” ordinances addressing the plight of the homeless. He doesn’t want to ban public feedings that take place in the parks, he says. He just wants to move them indoors.

Thrown into the fray: Abbott’s request for an injunction against the city, citing a 2000 court ruling allowing food sharing in the city; a hunger strike by a member of the local chapter of Food Not Bombs to protest the new law; an online protest; a protest outside the mayor’s house and a bevy of activists lining up to be cited for what they call “rogue beach sharing.”  Even Stephen Colbert weighed in.

The battle isn’t unique to Fort Lauderdale. Since January 2013, 22 cities around the country, from Los Angeles to Atlanta to Philadelphia, have enacted legislation restricting individuals and groups from sharing food with the homeless in public places, according to a new report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). Nine more cities have pending legislation.

The report found that there has been a 48 percent increase in cities attempting to pass such laws since 2010. Since 2007, 71 cities, in 27 states or commonwealths, including Puerto Rico, have either attempted or successfully enacted such legislation.

Cities typically cite safety issues such as food poisoning, said Michael Stoops, the NCH’s director of community organizing. Cities have also enacted laws restricting camping or sleeping in public, loitering or sitting or lying down in public.

According to Seiler, the Fort Lauderdale laws don’t prohibit the homeless from being in public spaces. “We simply said no one area should have all these feedings. (The park was) essentially overrun with these homeless feedings.  Arnold Abbott (and his feedings) weren’t a problem, but we can’t make an exception for one person.”

But advocates say the laws criminalize poverty and homelessness and usually stem from pressure from business interests or from homeowners taking a “not in my backyard” stance.

“The real motivation of these laws is to make the homeless less visible in downtown areas,” Stoops said. “They hope such laws will force homeless people to seek help, which never works. If the homeless were all dressed up in nice suits and dresses, there would be no problem. Cities say it’s bad for tourism and economic development.”

At the same time, three states have passed a “Homeless Bill of Rights,” which outlaws discrimination against homeless people, particularly by employers and landlords, and affirms their right to use public spaces. The bill also upholds their right to sleep in parked cars, eat and exchange food in public, access restrooms at any time, obtain legal counsel and vote.

Rhode Island was the first state to pass the bill of rights in 2012; Connecticut and Illinois did so last year. A similar bill failed in the California State Assembly last year, and activists are lobbying hard for legislation in Oregon and Colorado.

If the states’ bill of rights seems to pit states against cities, that is deliberate, says Paul Boden, who was once homeless and how is now the director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), a coalition of social justice organizations in the Western states.

“This is our attempt to say local governments have abused their authority,” said Boden, whose organization worked on the failed California bill. “These were local ordinances, passed by local government, enforced by local police departments, heard in local court and incarcerated in local jails. At some point, the state needs to step in and say, ‘This is discriminatory. How can you write a law that says it’s illegal to sit down?’”

A Difficult Problem 

Homelessness is a seemingly intractable problem with roots in a variety of societal ills, from mental illness to substance abuse to unemployment and a lack of affordable housing. (It is a myth that the majority of homeless people are mentally ill; only a small percentage are. Nor are all homeless people unemployed.)

People experiencing homelessness often shun shelters because they feel they are not safe. Then again, according to the National Law Center report, in many cities, there aren’t enough shelter beds to house the homeless.

Consequently, the report found, 74 percent of the homeless population do not know how to find a place where it is safe and legal for them to sleep. Eighty-one percent reported being harassed by police for sleeping in public; 66 percent say they were harassed for sitting or lying down in public.

Statistics on the precise number of homeless in the U.S. often conflict. The federal government says the homeless population is decreasing, while homeless advocates say it is on the rise.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a given night in 2013, their annual survey counted more than 610,000 homeless people. Advocates say the figure isn’t accurate since it counts the homeless at one specific point in time, and looks only at people who are in some type of shelter or are easy to spot sleeping in public spaces.

Large pockets of homeless populations are overlooked, said Tristia Bauman, senior attorney for the National Center on Poverty and Homelessness. “Homelessness is on the rise, thanks to foreclosure, prolonged unemployment and shrinking state resources.”

According to the National Law Center, family homelessness has increased since the start of the recession, and the ensuing foreclosure crisis, in 2007. According to a study released Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness, nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that more than 1.1 million homeless children were served in the nation’s public schools during the 2011-2012 school year.

Nearly a third of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered, which means they are living in the streets and are vulnerable to being prosecuted for vagrancy, public urination and the like. It’s also much more difficult for them to find food on a consistent basis, as few agencies provide meals for the homeless three times a day.

“We strongly agree that homelessness is a problem,” Bauman said. “What we very strongly disagree with is using the criminal justice system to quote unquote ‘solve the problem.’”

What’s more, Bauman said, laws criminalizing homeless activities end up costing municipalities and taxpayers more. “It’s much more cost-effective to provide housing than to temporarily cycle people through the criminal justice system,” she said.

New Solutions

To combat homelessness, advocates say that local, state and federal governments should invest in more affordable housing, including increasing the stock and availability of federally subsidized housing and funding the National Housing Trust Fund, which would provide block grants to states to provide housing for low- and very low-income households.

Some local governments have come up with innovative ways to curtail homeless. Nearly 10 years ago, Salt Lake City adopted a “housing first” model designed to eliminate chronic homelessness within 10 years.

The city created a system that provides housing to people in need of it—without stipulations such as staying sober. It also provides the new tenants with social service support so that they are able to stay in their homes. The state has reduced homelessness by 74 percent since 2005.

In Houston, police partner with mental health professionals and social service agencies to help the homeless with variety of needs, from housing to bus fare. In Ramsey County, Minnesota, a social worker embeds with the local police to serve as a liaison between police and the homeless community. 

Cities do best when they confront homelessness head on, rather than enacting ordinances like food sharing bans that “hide it from public view,” said Jim Ryczek, executive director for the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. According to Ryczek, getting legislators on board with the Homeless Bill of Rights was relatively easy. There was a public awareness of the problem, thanks to the existence of two tent cities in Providence.

“For the first time, people were seeing homelessness made bare as they made the drive to work,” Ryczek said. “It made it very visible. That makes public officials nervous.” But, he said, it also provides them with the opportunity to say, “Gee, this is part of who we are as a community and we need to do something.” 

One City’s Response

In Fort Lauderdale, feeding the homeless still takes place in a park located directly across from a 100-year-old women’s center and the public library, the mayor said, creating crowded conditions that are unsafe for both the homeless and other members of the general public. He said there were multiple complaints—“from children, families, tourists, you name it”—about the public feedings. Yoga classes had to be canceled at the center, and women and children couldn’t cross the park without an escort and residents regularly avoided the library, he said.

Seiler said he consulted with homeless advocates, churches, synagogues and mosques to come up with a solution, a series of laws that would restrict public feedings while authorizing all faith-based organizations to set up feeding stations for on their property, as well as providing other services for the homeless.

But Abbott, the 90-year-old activist, said hardly any churches have opened up their doors to let him and other volunteer groups feed the homeless. Moreover, he said, with about 10,000 homeless in the city, they don’t have the capacity.

“We are probably the most progressive city in Florida in dealing with the plight of the homeless,” Seiler said. “As a city, you step up and think you’re doing the right thing and a media distortion creates a whole bunch of controversy.”

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