The release of former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s new book, Stress Test — his self-serving account of the Obama administration’s effort to address the nation’s economic crisis and mortgage meltdown — has triggered a great deal of controversy and debate. Was the Obama economic team too cozy with, or too sympathetic, to Wall Street? Was the stimulus package large enough? Did Geithner, Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke stifle the views of dissidents within the administration — especially Council of Economic Advisors chair Christina Romer and FDIC chair Sheila Bair (perhaps not surprisingly, both women) — who urged bolder approaches?
But on at least one issue, there is a growing consensus: The Obama administration did too little, too late, to help troubled homeowners, who faced plummeting home prices and the risk of foreclosure.
Obama’s closest advisors wrongly assumed that as the economy improved, Americans would be better able to buy homes and pay the mortgage on existing homes.
More than 30,000 Los Angeles County homes still face foreclosure threats or have already been seized by banks as their owners struggle to cope with more than $14 billion in mortgage debt, a new analysis by Good Jobs LA reveals. These homes include:
The recent news reports about an “easing” foreclosure crisis bring no comfort to the more than 30,000 L.A. County families facing underwater mortgages held by the same banking giants that did so much to crash our economy nearly five years ago.
And the same big banks that led us into crisis continue to top the foreclosure lists,
Last week, Ana Casas Wilson — a wheelchair-bound woman with cerebral palsy and terminal stage-four breast cancer, and who has struggled for months to get Wells Fargo and US Bank to accept her money and stop foreclosing on her home of 40 years — received a final five-day notice to vacate from L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s office. Wilson and her family briefly fell behind on her payments after she had to go into the hospital for a double mastectomy, as I described in an earlier post. She and her friends and supporters have launched a round-the-clock vigil at her home in a blue-collar suburb outside Los Angeles (8968 San Juan Ave., South Gate, CA 90280) to resist eviction, as the Los Angeles Times reported last week.
You don’t have to be a recent homeowner to know how precarious the housing market has been since the bubble popped in 2007. Consider this, for example: Today half of all San Bernardino County homeowners have to put on scuba gear to view their mortgages. Last week, however, just as that county toyed with the idea of seizing such homes through eminent domain, there was a bright spot. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law (to take effect January 1, 2013) the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a consolidation of several bills that had been strongly pushed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The HBR offers several solid benefits to homeowners, but two stick out: