Tag Archives: Shaun Donovan

We’re not Faith-Based and Thank the Lord for AGs!

New Orleans    Comcast deigned to meet with representatives of Local 100 United Labor Unions in their offices in Houston on Monday.  Once again they tried to slather the butter on the bread with stories of their “good intentions” about internet access for the poor.  Once again they promised that they would get back to us.  Once again when we asked for real numbers of enrollees and real numbers of goals for outreach and enrollment, the only replies we could get still added up to “no.”

Orell Fitzsimmons, field director for Local 100, sitting in the meeting with a number of our leaders from Head Start units at Gulf Coast and Avance, who knew how little had been done to inform and enroll the children – and parents – they serve, had an excellent line for the Comcast representative.  He informed Comcast clearly that, “We are not a faith-based organization.  We can’t take your word on how well you think you are doing.  We have to know the facts and the real numbers.”  Fitzsimmons later told me he even quoted Ronald Reagan at one point from the old SALT missile days, and told Comcast we would need to be able to “verify.”

Maybe we weren’t hearing correctly, but the Comcast VP – they all seem to be VPs – seemed to be saying “make me!”  Furthermore he seemed to be insinuating that only the FCC could make them produce the numbers.  If that’s the case, then that’s where we will have to go to make this program work, if Comcast won’t live up to its promises.

On another front there was a report on possible progress for some of the homeowners facing foreclosure.  The story, as always, was disconcerting when it came to the codependence of the feds with the banks.  HUD secretary Shaun Donovan seemed to be wheeling and dealing to buy off different states to accept a deal which would reduce mortgage levels by a small number (the Times reported $20,000 per mortgage, which is a trickle in many communities), and tried to buy off California’s AG with a disproportionate share of the settlement.  Luckily, it appears that a number of the state attorneys generals are hip to the fact that the banks only real interest seems to be a “get out of court free” card from them, which Donovan and the feds seem more than willing to help facilitate.  Fortunately for many struggling homeowners a number of AGs are insisting that they will not waive their right to sue for the banks shenanigans.

At this point given how long suffering many homeowners have been and how many have already lost their houses, we all ought to hope for real justice, since clearly the time for a quick fix is long gone.


Doubtful Help for Unemployed Foreclosure Victims

imagesNew Orleans Secretary Shaun Donovan and President Obama made yet another HUD announcement of another faux “program” to help foreclosure victims, which once again will not work and plays yet more patty cake with banks and their loan servicers.  These charades have become something like a marker of seasons passing as we record yet more impotence of the federal government in dealing with the foreclosure crisis.   This time HUD announced for its mortgage holders an extension of forbearance from the sometimes three or four months offered to unemployed seeking to hold onto their houses to a period up to a year.  Wake up!  Stop yawning!  They want this to seem important.

Even though it is not important or much of anything, unfortunately, other than another press conference, it would seem.

This announcement and program cost no money.  Remember Congress in the original bailout set aside $46 billion for foreclosure modification supposedly to help 3 to 4 million homeowners facing foreclosures.  Months and years go by…tick-tock, but so far only $2 billion has been spent in this regard and only about 730,000 have won permanent modifications.

Of course a homeowner would have to be eligible, and eligibility is determined by the banks and servicers, and of course their participation in this program like all others is “voluntary,” and don’t forget that eligibility could also be impacted by other regulatory requirements or investor restrictions.  Make no doubt about it, it is much easier for a rich man to get into heaven, than for a poor working – or unemployed —  stiff to get a loan modification under HAMP.  That was true before, and it is just as true now.

This new “program” is a mandatory extension.  Mandatory though fits in the same sentence with voluntary participation and arbitrary, discretionary management of the “program” by the banks and their servicers with virtually no federal supervision or accountability.

Next month, HUD and the President are going to announce another new program.  In this one foreclosure victims will have a “pray for the files” day, where they pray that their foreclosure files will be lost yet again by the banks and servicers.  This is a prayer that statistics would establish is virtually a sure thing, and when assisted, advocates almost always find that this happened somewhere along the chain.

The month after that HUD and the President are going to announce another new program.  This one will be a raffle held on “Modification Mondays” throughout September.  Any homeowner whose name is drawn on Modification Mondays will win a review of their foreclosure case, which will guarantee a six month forbearance on their foreclosure.

Eventually, maybe they will run out of ideas for fake programs and press conferences and really create a mandatory program that is run by the government, spends the money allocated, and guarantees real relief for homeowners facing foreclosures.  Not yet obviously, but hopefully some day in our lifetimes.