Few Modifications and No Truth from Bank of America & Buddies in Phoenix

Community Organizing Financial Justice Foreclosure

Bend-Oregon-Bank-ForeclosuresPhoenix Ten families squeezed into the living room with a couple of kids, some concerned girlfriends, sisters and friends, so talk about the foreclosures they were facing or worse. Chairs came from the kitchen and everywhere else. Most of these victims, because that’s the only term that seems to fit, had loans with Bank America nee Countrywide, but in the room were also Wells Fargo, CitiMortgage, and GMAC, a list of the Bush/Obama bailout babies.

The homeowner modification program has been marked more by press releases and constant revisions than actual modifications, and these families were perfect examples not only of the total disaster of the program, but the perfidy of every part of it. The mortgage modification program is the BP oil spill in the neighborhoods rather than in the Gulf of Mexico, and it has some of the exact same hallmarks.

The stories were shocking and disturbing.

Roberto Padilla’s situation with Bank of America was perhaps the most bizarre and unbelievable and, frankly, tragic. The lying narrative the banks and the conservatives have managed to imprint on foreclosure victims is so far from the truth that I was left scratching my head at how these things were even possible. Roberto has a very good job. For the last 5 years he has driven a water pumping truck which has lowered the water level in lakes to prevent dam breaks, removed water from New Orleans after Katrina, and mainly sucks up sewers in a multi-state area. At the onset of the recession in 2008 his hours were cut to 32 per week and his overtime stopped (now it is back to almost 30 hours per week!), so he thought he would get a modification and make it all balance out. He paid a company $4500 for advice and help in the process. Of course they told him to stop paying, because no modification is possible until a payment is missed. Roberto had done a good job in his house. He had redone the flooring, build a back porch and deck, and in all made about $14000 in improvements on top of the more than $25000 down payment he had made to buy the house. Everything seemed on course for a modification, but almost a year went by and nothing was happening. He fired the first outfit that was “helping” him because all they talked about was a “short sale,” and he was just trying to get a “mod.” He hired another guy to give him a hand for a $1000. Everything was in good shape. The paperwork went in. He was told that he qualified for a mod orally. Suddenly his house was sold out from under him! Back to Bank of America?!?

How could any of this happen? Bank of America claimed that his paperwork was not submitted 14 days before the auction, though we have not been able to find anything in writing or elsewhere about such a “rule.” They also claimed that they had sent him earlier packets to apply for a modification to his house via mail and hand delivery to the door. Impossible. Roberto’s wife is an in home worker and at the residence 24/7 with their young children. Simply didn’t happen. They then claimed that he had personally called and had requested that they stop the modification process. Unbelievable!!! He not only did not call, but as he told them repeatedly, why was he paying someone to file for the mod. He demanded that they produce a tape that proved he had called, but they refused.

Can this story get worse? Sure! Hang on with me a little longer. The Bank tried to give him 5 days to get out of the house. He went to court and negotiated 3 weeks, which is still ridiculous since a tenant gets 90 days. Bank America bought their own loan. Did they have plans for the house of any kind. No! In fact part of what breaks Roberto’s heart is that they made no effort to even secure his house after they grabbed it at auction. The seizure of his house only happened two weeks ago, but his house has already been completely vandalized. The back door is open. The kitchen cabinets have been pulled down and out. There is graffiti on the walls in every room.

What the heck happened here. Lies on top of lies. A simple mod gone to hell. An family’s home where they had put in serious money and made improvements has gone from the pride of neighborhood to an eyesore. A family is now scratching for a place to live, while a community is now moving to a ghetto.

Bank America is not alone in this, but this is their legacy and their standard operating procedure.

Another Bank of America victim, Maria Carillo, in the meeting had gotten two letters the same day, one said she was eligible for the government modification assistance. The other letter mailed and received the same day, said she was denied. She asked rhetorically, “what was she supposed to do, pick the one she liked best?”

It went on and on like this for more than 2 hours. This night, there was no sobbing, but I felt like crying every time another horror was reported.

There will be more about all of this to come!