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National Civil Rights Groups Renew Call for Immediate Moratorium on All Home Foreclosures

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RISMEDIA, October 8, 2010—National civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Fair Housing Alliance, National Council of La Raza, the NAACP, and the Center for Responsible Lending, are renewing their April 2007 call to institute an immediate national moratorium on foreclosures. The civil rights groups believe that until lenders demonstrate that they are adhering to all existing laws, regulations, and contractual guidelines related to loss mitigation and foreclosure legal process, lenders in all 50 states should not move forward with any foreclosures. According to the groups:

Across the country, lenders are announcing temporary foreclosure moratoria and attorneys general are calling for the same because of systemic illegal foreclosure filings and misrepresentations. Many homes were foreclosed upon based on banks’ fraudulent or inaccurate documentation. While the extent of the fraud continues to be revealed, many lenders have instituted no foreclosure stop at all, and no lender has yet issued a national moratorium.

Research demonstrates that just as communities of color were more likely to receive predatory subprime loans, they also suffer more from foreclosures. As devastating as it has been for too many American families, the foreclosure crisis has disproportionately impacted communities of color. According to recent research by the Center for Responsible Lending, African-American and Latino borrowers are 75% more likely than their White counterparts to experience foreclosure. Moreover, the higher the concentration of racial minorities in a community, the higher the rates of foreclosure.

Neighborhoods across America are being destroyed as a result of the foreclosure crisis. The foreclosure crisis fallout is not limited to individual homeowners. Each foreclosure has enormous spillover effects, and communities, especially communities of color, are seeing their home vacancy and crime rates increase while home values and tax bases are eroded.

Lenders are not equipped to handle the current volume of home defaults. A foreclosure moratorium will give them a chance to develop adequate systems and capacity to preserve homeownership. The groups are calling on Congress to investigate the widespread fraud and misrepresentation in foreclosure filings, and to revive legislation that would allow loan modifications in bankruptcy court proceedings.

All lenders must be required to evaluate homeowners for loan modifications and other solutions, with strong transparency and accountability. Lenders who participate in the government’s foreclosure prevention program (HAMP) or handle government-insured loans are already required to do so. Homeowners must also have recourse when their lenders deny loan modifications leading to unnecessary foreclosures.

Statements of Supporting Organizations:

Statement of Wade Henderson, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

“The problem of foreclosure fraud with lenders’ wrongfully manipulating essential data was entirely foreseeable. Several years ago we urged Congress to make a simple change to bankruptcy laws that could have kept countless families in their homes. If we don’t take drastic measures now, we can expect millions of additional foreclosures in the coming years, with a disproportionate number of them involving Latino and African-American families.”

Statement of Shanna L. Smith, President & CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance

“We can draw a direct line from the history and patterns of segregation in America to the disproportionate effects of this crisis on communities of color. For decades, we have asked lenders to provide fair and affordable credit to underserved communities. Instead, these communities were deluged with toxic credit and we’re experiencing the fallout today. Our call for a national moratorium on risky subprime loans went unheeded three years ago. In the intervening time, most attempts to mitigate foreclosures have proven to be unsuccessful while more and more people defaulted on loans. We hope that our call for a national halt on all foreclosures will be implemented today.”

Statement of Hilary Shelton, Director of the Washington Bureau for the NAACP

“The foreclosure crisis has decimated American neighborhoods across our nation, and it has had a disproportionate effect on racial and ethnic minority families. Experts and scholars now project that it will take decades for communities of color to recover from the crisis. Racial and ethnic minority Americans have historically been the hardest hit by economic crises and that is certainly true today. The civil rights community warned the nation three years ago that if nothing was done to intervene that the crisis would impose the greatest loss of wealth ever experienced by the African-American and Latino communities. Sadly, this is being borne out.”

Statement of Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza

“Latino and African American families have been deeply harmed by the economic crisis through the loss of homes, jobs, and entire neighborhoods. Families continue to experience losses that extend well beyond the physical house to concerns over their children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and the evaporation of the family’s financial security. Our communities were targeted by predatory lenders. As a result, more than 1.3 million Latino families will lose their homes to foreclosure by the end of the crisis. Foreclosure prevention programs are not working, foreclosure rescue scams are rampant in our communities, and now fraudulent documentation is leading to a new wave of foreclosures. Enough is enough.”

Statement of Michael Calhoun, President & CEO of the Center for Responsible Lending

“When we first issued our call three years ago, the industry responded by stating that we were crying wolf, that the foreclosure problem would be contained. They were wrong, and as a result, we have had millions of preventable foreclosures. What’s more, our research reveals that African-Americans and Latinos are almost 75% more likely to experience foreclosure than Whites. We cannot allow this injustice to continue. Mortgage servicers and lenders must work to preserve homeownership when possible; when not possible, they must follow the law when foreclosing.”

For more information, visit http://www.nationalfairhousing.org

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