How We Work with Foreclosees

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Here’s what we tend to do to help someone in foreclosure – but is still short of property auction or post-auction eviction – who might become foreclosure fighter, if they’re loan is with Wells Fargo. If they are with another bank, SF ACCE may also have the ability to also help them engage in direct negotiations with someone with power at their lender – B of A, Chase, Aurora, for example. SF ACCE has also helped people fight evictions, and reclaim their homes after an eviction. But those fights are not discussed in this memo.

A. Help them get hooked up with a nonprofit HUD-certified counselor, who can:

1) submit their loan modification request, once the counselor has a 3 rd party
authorization, and some financial info;

2) engage in conversation with the lender to help them get a modification;

3) help them figure out if they have the income to qualify to a loan modification with their current income; need to increase his income, or need a principal reduction to modify; and

4) help them get their auction date postponed, find out if it actually is postponed, and until when.

I have attached my roster which has the contact names and info at the two nonprofit counselors we use – MEDA and SFHDC – as well as some other useful folks. MEDA recently told Grace that they are no longer accepting clients, but Ed Donaldson at SFHDC available. MEDA has bilingual staff.

B. Help them into “escalated” review under the WF CEO’s office. Up until now, that has virtually guaranteed that WF will postpone their auctions date/s until the end of that review, although we often don’t find out that one has been postponed until the day before or even the morning of. Getting them connected with Pelosi’s Office and her staffer Alex Lazar should do get them into this escalated process, as well as get him a single point of staff contact in the CEO’s office. This assistance also requires a 3rd party authorization form, for Pelosi’s Office and becoming a counseling client.

C. Help them get onto the Mayor’s Office/staffer Jeff Buckley’s list of cases which he is pursuing individually with the lenders. This assistance also requires a 3rd party authorization form for the Mayor’s Office, and becoming a counseling client.

I have attached 3rd party authorization forms for SFHDC, Pelosi and the Mayor. This form authorizes a 3rd party to engage in conversation with the lender about his modification request, and their case in general. Someone who receives 3 rd party authorization has no power to make decisions on a loan modification request. The foreclosee reserves that right entirely for themselves.

D. Help them get into an ongoing conversation with that single point of contact at Wells Fargo.

E. If and when they receive a trustee’s notice of property auction, in addition to helping them get it postponed and/or blocking it, we need to help them track when it is scheduled to occur.

A lender carries out a property auction through a trustee. The trustee is required to make only a single public notice, with the SF Recorder/Assessor’s Office, of an auction date – the first date when they can carry out an auction. They are not required to report any subsequent changes in that date. OB and SF ACCE have paid for access to a data base that purports to report rescheduled auctions, but sometimes it is faulty and/or takes a few days to report the new date. Even a verbal statement by a lender’s staff person that they have postponed the auction date is sometimes not accurate. The best way that we have found to track an auction date is through the phone number and/or website contained in the trustees notice of the initial auction date.

F. Finally, how do you see if the foreclosee will become/help a person become a foreclosure fighter?

Becoming a foreclosure fighter helps a person: 1) save their own home in foreclosure, AND 2) win reforms and ideally permanent structural changes in the current predatory, unfair and largely racist foreclosure system. We aren’t counselors. We are leaders in fighting organizations. With our current power, we can’t help everyone who is in foreclosure. We can help individual foreclosees, if they fight. We can only win the complete restructuring of the foreclosure system by organizing and building the power to win on individual cases, and reforms of the foreclosure system – like a moratorium, or the postponement of auctions or evictions, or the reoccupation of homes form which folks have been evicted. It is only by fighting with power that we can change the entire foreclosure system into one that is fair, just and non-discriminatory.

We can only win if the people in foreclosure step up and fight for themselves, and other people in the same fix that they are in. We must help them become leaders in the fight. And it is only by them become the face and voice of the fight to end the foreclosure crisis that the lenders, the public, and potential allies like the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor will ever understand who is being hurt by foreclosure, and what it is doing to our communities.

So, sadly, we must pick and choose with whom we will work. We will work with them if they fight, and become active members in and leaders of our organizations. In developing foreclosees into foreclosure fighters, we are not hurting their ability to win their individual cases. Only 13% of the foreclosees who work with an SF HUD certified nonprofit counselor “escape” foreclosure by attaining a loan modification or some other settlement. The counselors tell foreclosees that they will increases their chances of winning if they: 1) fight back, and 2) join an organization like Occupy Bernal and SF ACCE. Lenders pay at least some attention to foreclosure fighters because they want them – and their organizations – to go away! As you can see, the small changes we have won, and the process above, has helped individual foreclosees help themselves.

SF ACCE has helped foreclosure fighters win loan modifications, even for ones that lenders have evicted from their homes. OB has helped foreclosure fighters win modifications, but so far only for people who had the income to qualify anyway.

We must test the folks that we try to help. Tell them straight up that we can’t “save” them, but we will help them fight back. And that we want them to become foreclosure fighters. Tell them what we mean by that term. Give them opportunities to do so. Invite them to the next meeting of our organizations. Ask and train them to speak to their neighbors; the media; elected officials; and representatives of the lenders. Give them the opportunity to participate in the planning of actions against the lenders, and active roles in those actions.

Attachments: Buck’s roster; 3rd party authorization forms for SFHDC, Mayor and
Pelosi’s Offices.

By Buck Bagot – 415/385-0389 OR BUCKB@DEVINEGONG.COM.

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