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NOW on Demand
Week of 2.6.09

Help for the Homeowners?

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Is there a solution to the foreclosure mess that's destroying communities?

Across the country, cities are in crisis because of the fallout from the mortgage mess—property taxes are way down, and abandoned homes are bringing down property values, inviting crime, and draining government coffers. Neighborhoods are being destroyed. Yet the federal bailout money is not going directly to desperate communities and homeowners, but to local and national banks.

This week, NOW investigates the innovative way some cities are fighting back. The city of Memphis, Tennessee is suing major national lenders and banks for deceptive and discriminatory lending practices in an effort to recoup the cost of the foreclosure mess. Other cities suing lenders for their role in the mortgage mess include Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Birmingham.

With desperation climbing alongside debt, can the strategy help these blighted parts of America?

Related Links

Pew Research: Defaulting on the Dream: States Respond to America's Foreclosure Crisis (pdf), examines what individual states are doing to help borrowers avoid foreclosure and keep their homes; and prevent problematic loans from being made in the first place.

Albany Government Law Review: Subprime Communities: Reverse Redlining, the Fair Housing Act and Emerging Issues in Litigation Regarding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis
Article by Ray Brescia, visiting professor at Albany Law School, on the challenges faced by litigants, including municipalities, when bringing actions to remedy acts of past discrimination in the subprime mortgage market.

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Derek B
What about help for the people who have already lost their homes. The last several years there has been record breaking years of families homes being foreclose on and bankruptcies. I have not heard anything about those families need. Not only have they lost homes, income, pride, but now their credit rating are so low that buying a home means high interest rates, higher down payments, fewer options. Many are good people and bad timing, don't forget this is a high number and are really people in more need than ones who still have their homes.

Commenter: Connie Hill
In 2007 and 2008 my children and I were homeless for 15 months. Because a California Lender and a Wall Street Bank forced us into the streets knowing that the mortgage I had was fraudulant at the on-set(escrow never closed)my name end up on a note.
I never had a chance to become a homeowner.

Commenter: Andrea
I'm currently facing foreclosure. This was interesting but so true. I was young when I purchased my home and to this day I remember my lender at indyMac saying "I'm going to put that you make more money so you get the loan. Don't worry about it...." Now, I wish I could say up to his face "...ok so I shouldn't worry about providing a roof on top of my kid's heads 3 years later." What a Joke? What options do we have besides the loan modification? That isn't helping me much as well.
Andrea from IL

Commenter: michael
interesting segment on mortgages

Commenter: viewer
Excellent, Excellent reporting - thank you, this was very interesting and informative to watch.

Commenter: mc
It is unconscion-able that lenders have been permitted to provide loans that they know the home owners will be unable to pay back....

No, NO. I don't think that the lenders have the permission to give loans to anyone without collateral.

Most Lenders did not worry about the rules but went on aggressive lending without adequate safeguards, which led to the financial disaster we are in today. Mortgage Companies such as Countrywide, IndyMac, a few other banks went on aggressive lending using Pay Option ARM, Sub-Prime Mortgages without considering the risks involved and introduced unnecessary mortgage products and services using high sounding words that would not work and misled the public. Those gimmicks should stop.

Banks need to be regulated. Any violators should be taken to task and held accountable. Then only we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Commenter: AL
I'm currently going through Forclosure with WAMU and I have been trying to work with them since Aug of 08. I called them weekly for any informationa dn finally I received a letter from them that my house was going to auction on DEC 23. Wait a minute I told them, I am still working with you guys. Don't worry they said anything can happen before then. They waited until the last minute to give a huge payment I could not afford

Commenter: MC
I don't think countrywide can help anyone at this time when they are on mortgage life-support or ICU/CCU whatever you may call it. The only bank that can offer help is Bank of America since they bought out countrywide. Best thing would be look for Govt loans such as FHA.

Mortgage banks are in deep trouble today than they were 29 years ago and credit cards are a wash. Their credit ratings are way below expectation. How can they help consumers when they need the financial oxygen mask?

It may take several months or even years to come to the normal level until there is some drastic change brought about by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve.

Commenter: MC
I don't think countrywide can help anyone at this time when they are on mortgage life-support or ICU/CCU whatever you may call it. The only bank that can offer help is Bank of America since they bought out countrywide. Best thing would be look for Govt loans such as FHA.

Mortgage banks are in deep trouble today than they were 29 years ago and credit cards are a wash. Their credit ratings are way below expectation. How can they help consumers when they need the financial oxygen mask?

It may take several months or even years to come to the normal level until there is some drastic change brought about by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve.

Commenter: james
go mayor

Commenter: BERNARD

Commenter: Linda Dean
Are the auctions selling homes for less than the defaulted loan amounts? If so, the foreclosed owners should be granted loans for the lesser amount.

Commenter: Candace Keirns-Bitensky
I am a physician who trained and lived in Mexico for 25 years. I now live in Newton, MA. It is unconscion-able that lenders have been permitted to provide loans that they know the home owners will be unable to pay back. I am deeply concerned about the social impact of foreclosure on neighborhoods. Specifically, when foreclosed properties are not occupied, the abandoned properties lead to blight. I would ask whether the city, state or federal government does not have right of eminent domain to seize such property and return it to the foreclosed buyer in custodianship. Such a plan might protect neighborhoods and save municipal governments the cost of caring for homeless people cast out of homes and ultimately the cost of razing ruined property.
Obviously the problem could be assuaged by a moratorium on foreclosure and debt restructuring.
While I admit that my training is not focused on questions of real estate title and eventual ownership, I wonder whether considerable misery could not be avoided by considering custodianship of properties and of course renegotiation of mortgages.

Commenter: Steve
There are several questions to this, but one of the biggest is if the bank/lender is willing to sell a home at much larger loss than doing a modification. Why are they unwilling to write down the principal amount and/or interest rate. So it is affordable. If the banks buy back the properties, they should be responsible for the property not the city or state. They should be liable like any other owner or proprietor.

Commenter: Virginia
I need help desparately! I feel that I was wrongfully placed in this situation! I just signed the loan modification documents and mailed it this past Friday because I can't handle the stress any longer as they have threaten to foreclose on my home on a biweekly basis! I did not want to sign these without understanding them, but it was a hurry and sign situation!! My payments are the same as before!

Illegal foreclosure? yes! The reason I was placed in this situation in the first place was, I believe, that the mortgage servicer miscalculated my payments. secondly, The foreclosing notice on my door had a different bank name, not who I was paying -Merrill Lynch, the assumed note holder. They disappeared somewhere after the foreclosure process began. The bank HSBC/Sequoia, was on the posted notice but it was not recorded until 2 months after they put the notice on my door. The dates of these recording do not line up! They refuse to inform me of who holds my note! Somehow, a payment is missing and the amount of $911.00 shows to be floating in the account for a few years as well. My mortgage account history shows approx 35 miscalculations within a 3 year period.

To secure my home from foreclosure, I was told to pay in full, the amount the bank requested, prior to the auction date. Because the Bank already had 2 of my payments in their possession for almost 2 months, they instructed me to pay the difference to Trott

Commenter: MC
Help for Homeowners? Who is helping whom?

Our American Economy so bad and uncertain and the Unemployment rate is extremely high beyond comprehension
Nothing has been done so far to jumpstart the economy.

Many viewers have lost interest in watching tv news or sitcoms. Getting the basic needs for everyday survival is a big challenge in this country.
Who is concerned about Homeowners?

The Congress use Taxpayers' money to bail out failed financial institutions whereas the banks use their Corporate jets to enjoy fancy parties at Las Vegas?

Failed Executives are rewarded in this country. Many Public Schools have failed. Students drop out at an alarming rate.

This is not Americanism.

Where are we in today's math, science and English?

Are we doing anything to improve the economy and help the next generation?

We have not heard the answers for that.

Commenter: Ric Puls
Your program has just ended. Excellent! Excellent! The mayor of Memphis is the most eloquent spokesman on the issue. I also can not help noting that the outdoor foreclosure auctions were taking place over a trash container outside on the courthouse steps. The fact that there is not a proper forum for foreclosures speaks loud. Your report needs to continue. You have already found people on the ground that have the facts of a tragic story. Please follow up on them. Excellent and heartwrenching and award winning journalism.

Commenter: Linda Wallace
Thanks for providing this public service. This is an important topic.

Commenter: Shaft
Many of the bank representatives were making more incentives for signing more people, in some cases tricking people who are financially hurting to borrow and buy homes for low rate interest and once the credit has been approved as grade-A loan send it to the major financial investment institutions, and those investment institutions get bailed out when trouble begins leaving the victims of the fraud to be victimized again. How sad is that. It makes you really mad at the people that are getting the bailout at the expense of the very taxpayer they victimized.

Commenter: paul
I just realized the significance of your message below. "There are currently no approved viewer submissions. Please check back soon."

My guess is that there is so much anger, so much total outrage after seeing this program that there are no comments that are acceptable enough to post.

Good luck with that.

Commenter: paul
Let's all keep in mind that we are here thanks to the two previous presidents; Clinton and Bush. Talk about bi-partisonship. How's that for irony?

Whether the banks and financial institutions know it or not, they have effectively set the stage for anarchy. Every day I expect to read about some violent reaction from an overly wrought citizen that has decided that this is enough. The rich get even richer now, thanks to gov't handouts.

That bailout money should have gone directly into the hands of the citizens that have been victimized by this reverse redlining behavior and those that make under a certain amount of income.

I firmly believe however, that within these mortgage foreclosures is a group of people that have gotten into financial trouble while trying to enhance their image. They saw an opportunity to move from their existing home into an even bigger, more expensive home strictly to obtain more prestige. These people should fail. They should learn what the passage means that "pride goeth before a fall."

BTW, I suspect the reason the banks are not lending any money yet is because they have earmarked that money to finance the pending lawsuits. I sincerely doubt that any of our government officials would have the insight to see that coming and make that one of the restrictions for use of bailout money. And even if it is, the banks know the rate at which the gov't moves. The banks can use the money any way they want and not have to fear any action by the gov't until well after they have used it. And there maight never be an investigation into how the money was used. And if there is, even then, nobody will go to jail or lose their houses and income.

Commenter: One of Many who need HELP
How can a mortgage company foreclose on your property if they can not present the Note????

Commenter: Ann Maguire
I watched this show and frankly although its great information I am appalled that it took this long for the one show that seems to have a clue, NOW, to have presented this material, AND IT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH. Your telling us that even a mayor, a lawyer can do NOTHING to help his constituents. You are buying in and promoting the idea that this is problem is not solvable! There are many simple things that communities can do to resolve this quickly and easily and they are too narrow minded with years of blinders to even try. The federal gov't can't or won't fix it, but we can. Screw the fed, even Obama can see the forest for the trees and will continue to throw good money after bad and get bogged down. Please concentrate on stories that show people and individuals, family's what they can do to fool proof their own financial lives. Give us and our communities the tools and the information we need to save ourselves. We are standing on the roofs and waving sheets, hoping for someone to come for us, and we are dying off in droves while our government is falling all over themselves to hand our tax money to the same crooks who distroyed our economy, and will never make it down to us. We know they are all crooks! Oh well... Too bad.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU is to know how to save ourselves. I can give you examples and I know so many people, middle class and hard working who have been pulled into an endless cycle of debt and credit and have no personal safety needs. When anything happens, divorce, job loss, illness etc they fall into a spiral of decline and THEY ARE NOT COMING BACK.
Please focus stories on people who are working to create individual and community safety nets that can save them on the small local scale.
Start of series of stories that focuses on individuals and communities, they are out there, that work. Who stood up and did not take part in the complete break down of ethics and common sense. There are small banks and communities who are not only solvent but are making it because they did their jobs and didn't try and victimized their own communities to get by. These are the businesses who need to get financial encouragement.
The fed needs to let the big banks fail, and break up the failing institutions so they are not neutron bombs in our country. That way the fail out of a crooked institution would not have the catastrophic effects, instead the crooked institutions are buying up other crooked banks and becoming so large they will inevitably destroy the country when they are finally done. And we are funding our own distruction.
As I wait to be laid off (my third by the way), I have done what I can to make myself ask strong financially and professionally. I bought less than I qualified for in a older neighborhood, and paid it off n six years; I've saved 75% of my pay check for the last 10 years; I volunteer and take on no debt. Yet, one illness, the loss of this job, my mother's health failing... all can undo the extraordinary effort I've gone to to try and survive. TELL ME WHAT TO DO!
So please, tell me how I can work on a personal level to survive, because at this point I can't wait around for anyone to save me.

Commenter: Lorena Lorenzana
I been trying to work with Countrywide to modify my mortgage loan but they seem that they do not want to help the lenders. They pretty much shut me down, even though I am already 3 months behind in my mortgage payments. All I want is for them to modify my loan so I can be able to continue making my monthly payments. I have two years straight that was paying my two mortgagees on time but unfortunately, for two years, I had help from the developer that sold me my unit. They paid my association fees and also helped me with $350.00 towards my second mortgage. Now, that is finished, which means that I have to come out with $600.00 more every month with one income in the household. Please if anyone can have some tips in what to do since Countrywide is not helping!!!!

Commenter: Ed Limey
Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton should try "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

Commenter: Anne Tundermann
I think that this documentary says it all!

People, should join together within their municipalities to fight back against the financial institutions and political supporters that have essentially gotten this country and its people into this economic crisis. We need to send a message to President Obama and Washington in whatever way we can, via the internet to 'demonstrate' how we feel
about what is going on and what we, as people think should be done!

I'm a small business owner, I'm just about getting by presently, however the cost of living has risen so high that I'm not sure if I can sustain the income I need to stay solvent.

I feel for the people who have been taken advantage of and feel strongly that there should be some accountability: to my mind, it's not enough to just move forward, as too many liberties have been taken!

Commenter: O. Gonzalez
My point is that the American economy being at least two thirds consumer driven that money be given to the people. Not the absurd 500 dollars given previously, nor would yearly stipends help. I am talking about giving $25,000.00 US Dollars to Americans meeting these criteria:
*Be a US Citizen
*Never had filed for bankrupcy (foreclosure only is ok)
* Be age 30
* Not currently in welfare
These would spend this money in saving their homes, buying a home, buying goods to stimulate the economy, saving for retirement, paying off credit debt, and/or paying for goods and services.
In short the velocity of the dollar would be restored which is not being done by people or organizations hoarding it.

Best Regards.

Commenter: James Tennant
A simply solution to the foreclosure problem in the State of Connecticut is to make the lending institution that forecloses pay the property taxes, and maintain the property. They are the owners and are currently exempt from these responsibilities. These burdens fall on the taxpaying public. Banks would then be motivated to rewrite existing loans and use the money received from taxpayers more productively.
This proposal would revive the municipal tax base limiting the damage to local budgets.

Commenter: shain
I cried upon viewing this program because it just shows the utter collapse of our government: banks are not there to help small businesses and individuals. The Rep said it best when he pointed out that individuals are at the mercy of a system that doesn't work for them: the man who steals a$300 bike goes to prison, while a banker who steals billions goes free. It's shameful.

Commenter: Textynn
I watched NOW last night and heard about the city in Memphis that is suing the financial institutions there for the devastation and cost of their practices that displaced many thousands and left homes rotting unused. The American people need to call a crime a crime and quite letting the elite tell us what is acceptable and moral. These banks that displaced so many are clearly practicing scams. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Just like the pedophile that grooms his victims into accepting the treatment he wishes to exercise upon them, we have the banks doing the same thing to America and hurting people, destroying their lives, scattering their families,destroying the American way of life, and shamefully stepping up for a handout from the very people they are exploiting.

These banks have proven themselves inept and criminally greedy. They don't need bailouts, they need subpoenas, seized assets, and denied access to our public as legally condoned businesses.

Commenter: Sunshine
I'm glad action (lawsuits) are being taken against the banks and mortgage companies because they were greedy in giving out loans to people who could not afford them. It hurts everyone.

Commenter: Angela Medina
After years of struggling to make my payments on a triplex with a 10.8%, 5/1 Alt-A mortgage through IndyMac that I should never have gotten, I finally found out why I did even though I had a FICO score in the 700's. A phony appraisal in 2000! I tracked down the initial broker who gave me the name of the first appraiser who refused to do the inflated appraisal after he told the agent that it was worth 250k less than what they had listed it for. When the agent threatened not to send him anymore business if he did not come up with the number they needed, he told her she was committing fraud and that I would most likely get a risky loan if any lender accepted the appraisal. She was both the sellers agent and mine. I was so naive at the time but I guess that is how we learn our lessons in life. Plus there is so much more information available online now than there was back then. I found out that the county assessed value of the property in 2000 was 527k and I ended up paying 900k. 8 years later it has finally appreciated to the amount I paid for it. It took me 3 years of "investigating" to figure it all out. Now I just hope I can weather the economic downturn, but if the rental market collapses as well, I probably won't be able to hang onto it. So everyone has made their money. The seller, the agent, the broker, the appraiser, the title company and the lender who sold off their risk to Wall Street and now we the taxpayer will be bailing them out. Talk about coming full circle!

Commenter: kearsekids@yahoo
I am a home owner which is up sidedown in subprime mortgage crisis.I need help to lower my payment monthly , if I was 62 I could reverse my mortgage.So now I have to live around closed and abanned foreclosure homes.

Commenter: LA
With this latest news of cities suing lenders due to their lending practices. It makes me wonder if the banks were possibly anticipating a lawsuit and therefore, ran to Hank Paulson, former Treasury Secretary and Congress told a horror story of a "lending freeze." Or, was the Bush administration aware that there would be lawsuits due to the housing bubble and tried to white wash it as a lending freeze.

Commenter: Anne
After watching this episode and sleeping on it, I woke up remembering that McCain accused the Democrats of legislation that forced Fannie and Freddie to target low-income families with affordable mortgages, so that they too could live the American dream. It backfired with the ARM loans and corporate greed. But the intent initially was to make housing available to minorities in order to continue to receive gov't assistance. Therefore I don't believe the Mayor of TN and Baltimore can accuse these lenders of race discrimination. Corporate greed perhaps and the city suffering overall with no tax base, but low income whites and other minorities including women have also suffered from their predatory lending practices.

Commenter: TFitz
Excellent program and a good start. Here in the state of Arizona, and the City of Phoenix, the effort is beyond pitiful. Of course, Mayor Phil Gordon, the City Council, have been in the pockets of real estate developers or years. An example from the latest email from Government Relations of the City of Phoenix,
Focus on Foreclosure

Home foreclosure is a growing problem in Phoenix and communities around our State. One of the recurring problems we are seeing is the impact of foreclosure on renters who often have no idea that the home they are renting is being foreclosed and find themselves kicked to the curb with no time to find alternative housing. The Mayor and City Council have made this issue one of this year's legislative priorities. A number of bills have been introduced this session to address this problem in various ways:

SB1275 property deeds; foreclosures; identification (Sen. Linda Gray, R - Phoenix/Glendale) requires the tenant of a foreclosed property to be notified as well as the property owner. It also requires the property owner's name and address and state be set forth fully in the deed. Other bills dealing with the issue include SB1210 foreclosures; notice; mailing (Sen. Richard Miranda, D - Phoenix) and SB1413 foreclosure sales; notice to tenants (Rep. Robert Meza, D - Phoenix). In addition, Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor (D - Phoenix) will hold a press conference to announce the introduction of SB1108 landlord-tenant; foreclosures; notice, that would require landlords to provide foreclosure notification to renters.

Commenter: C. Black
Great story! I was shocked, but uplifted, to learn that lawsuits are actually being filed in a much-needed attempt to hold these monster banks and lenders responsible for the financial devastation they have created - by way of their corrupt and unethical marketing and lending practices - in these particular communities. Yes, these banks/lenders knew exactly what they were doing when they made these loans, just as they knew when they made a vast majority of the loans they did that have led to severe loss of the American Dream throughout the country. I live in Southern California and I don't see ANY of our leaders or representatives stepping up to do anything about all the foreclosures (including the threat of foreclosure) faced by so many people. I truly sympathize with the thousands of families who have lost their homes as highlighted in this program. These banks and lenders are a disgrace to what the American Dream is all about. It's criminal, really.

Commenter: Sumitra
I feel for those facing foreclosure, but in both borrowing and investing there is risk; the potential for failure, the loss of the dollars. Those buying homes with sub-prime lending were _investing_ with both the hopeful perception that the value would gain *and* the risk that the value might decline. Had they saved for and purchased without a mortgage, there would be no issue, because a home as residence would be owned irrespective of its valuation. The auctions of the property are a natural result for the downside of the risk, and an opportunity for new buyers for investment or residence; establishing a new _corrected_ valuation for those homes and those in the surrounding area. Municipalities should be [assisting people, for example lending, in] buying the homes instead of wasting taxpayer dollars enriching lawyers in lawsuits they are likely to lose since the borrowers were in collusion with the lenders in their greed, each knowingly taking on a "risky investment". That the Congress was stupid enough to give away money to the banks does not justify a giveaway to the borrowers. Two wrongs do not make a right, and there is no way to fairly assist those still being omitted in the handouts.

Commenter: Butch Ellis
Another PBS program, "SoCal Connected", also presented a vivid picture on the crisis of foreclosures - the homes in this commentary were "California" homees, big and beautiful. But, the homes foreclosed in Balitmore and Memphis on "Now" were just as heartbreaking to the people who lost them. I firmly believe our government is not doing its job - they do not have the problem of worrying about where they will live next month. I think those congressmen who do not understand this crisis should be replaced immediately - without elections. Fewer politicians may help the situation to be reversed. I hope Americans are paying attention, and will show their anger when those politicians come-up for the next election.

Commenter: Kevin
5 years ago banks were being sued and chastised by congress for not doing enough sub-prime business and denying folks the american dream. fast forward 5 years and this foolish behavior is now "predatory" even though it wiped out the banks.

now we want to let all the irresponsible borowers off the hook? I'm sorry but the housing market just won't function that way. default and forclosure are _supposed_ to be painful, otherwise everyone will just default to reduce their payments. what kind of an impact does that have on the mortgage market? would you lend your money to someone who could default, pay you half your money back, and move on penalty free?

I understand that there's alot of human pain involved in this tragedy, but it isn't wise to forgo the needle, only to catch the plague.

Commenter: Donovan Nelson
During all the discussions of foreclosed homes, I have heard nothing of the impact of the hurricanes of the last five years on the real estate market.

I left Florida at the end of 2007 and bought a home in New Mexico. Everyone I know in Florida is loosing their home due to Hurricane Charlie.

The insurance agencies are primarily responsible for this.

No one is talking about it.

Commenter: Eddie Felton
I see present foreclosure crisis as something that most local government don't want to admit it is happening and not knowing what to do.

I am a Executive Director for a Non-Profit Home Counseling agency and I am having problems getting funds to do our job. Presently my office is booked thru April and we saw a total of 516 individuals in some kind of foreclosure and this was over a 7 months time frame. I think that the federal government and others need to come see what is happen at ground zero. I am located in Fort Myers/ Cape Coral, Fl. should I say more.

Thank you

Eddie Felton

Commenter: lynn in seattle
it occurs to me that this is the appropriate time for government officials to start paying social security taxes. it would be difficult to support an argument against it, especially when everyone NOT making tax-free income for the rest of their lives after holding an office for, isn't it after 3 years?
no matter. the important thing is that each and every single american now needs to support our country. not just talk a good justification story.

Commenter: Elizabeth Hoops
I hadn't realized that the upkeep of foreclosed houses fell to the cities. Don't the banks/mortgage companies "Own" the houses that they take back? Why aren't they paying for the upkeep and taxes on these properties?

Commenter: Roberta Adams
I do not understand why the banks who have foreclosed are not paying the property taxes on those houses. Are they not liable or responsible for the tax as the owner of the property?

Commenter: gregory sacchetti
sorry to hear that empty houses attract crime. prostitutes and drug users. lets have more policing , could it be these drug heads and sex workers may have been prior residents. christ these people didn't fall off the face of the earth., and why aren't the banks keeping these properties.
and for christ sake why is it so easy for a bank to why any way, I miss three home equity loan payments 3 for 1600. dollars I'm being foreclosed on . I don't live there my ex wife and son Do we been separated three years I been out of work for a couple of years I'm being treated for depression and have other issues. I was paying but I'm out of money I'm tryng to get workers comp but who knows?

Commenter: Linda
In my city you have 90 days to bring a badly damaged or neglected home up to code.
Why dont the cities plagued by this empty house scorge give the banks that own them 90 days to repair or levy huge daily fines?
How about an impound after 120 days and a sale as a "homestead" house where the "homesteader" has the same 90 days to bring the house up to code and that is what buys it? There used to be those programs in big cities with abandoned properties. Those laws existed or still exist in some localities. Dust them off! And banks and corporations dont qualify to get a homestead house.
Many cities would have these homes back in the hands of the people that lost them, and the houses back on the tax rolls before the forclosure lender found the paperwork.
There is a lot of pride in sweat equity.
There is a lot of equity in a house obtained in that way. But a homesteader must keep the house for five years, must not borrow against it, and must be a resident of the house to get the deed.
Community based organizations, neighborhoods, and Habitat would have so much fun fostering the return of this program.

Commenter: Paul
I think many of the new mortgage forms should be outlawed. Like option adjustables.

Commenter: Judith Logue
Thanks again David.


I wish that skin color did not have to enter into the picture - the lenders are wolves (simple racketeers) taking advantage of sheep - black and white.

The lenders should be PROSECUTED UNDER RICO (Racheteer Influenced and Corrput Organizatons Act) and have any monies collected in this fraud seized and paid out to the victims. I think the "lenders" would bemuch more amiable to negotiating interest rates and payments if they knew they were vulnerable under RICO.

Commenter: Barbara
A big hand to the Major of Menphis, and the other 3 states. Don't give up show all the other states that they shoud follow what you are doing and let all those bad apples that took advantage of the poor people pay back evey penny they stole.

Commenter: Alan DiCicco
RE: The lawsuit on federal help.

I just caught the tail end of the show and the Mayor that filed a lawsuit. I will be looking into this more and would appreciate information on this matter.
I am stuck in a 9% mortgage from AIG/AGF in Mohave County Arizona and I am disabled awaiting SSDI hearing. I have to rely on assistance from family to avoid forsclosure.

Thankyou for having it on PBS.

Commenter: KMB
Does anyone connect the apathy towards education and the current mortgage mess we are facing? I am tired of bailing out people who make poor decisions, who do not think for themselves, who feel that they are entitled to government bailouts despite their own lack of education and foresight. I work in an inner-city school district (although this problem extends beyond the inner-city) and I can tell you that the majority of parents do not instill education as a priority into their children. These students come to school (or not, as parents often do not seem to care whether their child is absent 20 to 50 days a year) not valuing an education, armed with attitudes that they are entitled to disability payments/subsidized housing/free bus pass/free health care/free breakfast and lunch/food stamps, etc. Students come to school with expensive phones, iPods, multiple pairs of Nike sneakers - different colors to match each shirt,etc. They are often dropped off in Escalades or Navigators. Students come in stating "Why do I need an education? I'll just collect disability and have my kids on disability" (which is a whole scam business in itself, although I rarely see this addressed in the media - most people are unaware of the extent of these abuses - I see it daily - $400, $500 per monh, per child) School is for socializing. Parents regularly blame teachers, ADHD, or some other diagnosis-du-jour for their child's misbehavior and lack of academic success. There is no sense of responsibility for one's actions. A "D" is considered a satisfactory grade because it is "passing." So why am I not surprised when we are bailing out, or feeling sorry for, the same uneducated people - those who chose not to take advantage of an education when they had the opportunity - who thought that they could afford a home that cost them 10 times their income? And YET AGAIN, those of us hardworking, middle class Americans end up spending our hard-earned tax dollars to bail out our fellow irresponsible, uneducated neighbors (I will not address our bailout of greedy corporate America here - that is another whole story).

Commenter: Nani
Here's my lay person (woman) comment. Other than the fact that the banks/Wall Street scared us all into giving them the money to make sure that they get their bonuses, the reason they are not lending is again to make sure that they get the second half of it. And if, in the face of all this 'insult to injury' mess they are doing with our money, the Obama admin. gives it to them, then we the citizens have truly been rendered helpless!

Commenter: Frank Coppola
Payback for first time home buyers credit of $7500. should be waived. The logic that these first time homeowners do not need the pay back waived is ludicrous.
How many first time home buyers are flush with cash after a 20% down payment. Then furnishing, and fixing the home up.

4% mortgage for everyone should be the governments
top priority. This will put money directly into the pockets of the people.

Commenter: M Stancil
Thank you David for this enlightening program tonight. And thanks to Mayor of Memphis in taking the steps to do whatever necessary for the people of Memphis.

Help for the Homeowners?

Coping with the Mortgage Mess

Help for Struggling Homeowners

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