California Legislature Passes Homeowner Bill of Rights
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California Legislature Passes Homeowner Bill of Rights

October 16, 2019


good afternoon I’m pleased to join
attorney general Harris set at President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg mr. Ethan Hoff
and my colleagues in both houses to discuss the elements of the homeowners
Bill of Rights that was just passed by the legislature this afternoon this was
a tremendous accomplishment for every Californian who’s still facing the
prospects before closure under the package approved by the legislature
today California’s homeowners will have the ability to work with lenders to seek
modifications to their loans that will allow them to stay in their homes and
avoid foreclosure but we go further by eliminating some of the worst abuses of
financial industry that have helped to cause the worst economic crisis in
generations we outlaw the practice of robo-signing we require lenders to
provide a single point of contact for homeowners seeking to work with the
lenders and we require lenders to stop the practice of dual tracking where
lenders continue to pursue foreclosure even after the homeowner has completed a
loan modification application these are major victories for consumers and impose
tough new regulations on banks and lenders to stop the abusive abusive
practices that we’ve seen since the collapse of the housing market
ultimately we know that our state’s recovery will not take hold until the
housing market stabilizes and Californians no longer have to fear the
uncertainty of living in houses that are underwater this is a major victory for
the people of California we still have more work to accomplish and we will
continue working on bringing relief to California homeowners this package is an
excellent down payment on the commitment and we want to thank my colleagues in
the assembly and the Senate as well as the Attorney General for their hard work
and approving these improvements and in these important reforms for the people
of our state with that I’d like to turn it over to my colleague the Senate
President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg thank you very much mr. speaker thank
you for your leadership and partnership thank you to the work of the assembly
conferees assembly members furin Aang I want to thank my Senate colleagues who
all include everybody who put forward such outstanding work here senator
Noreen Evans the chair of our conference committee senator ron calderon who also
did a great job in senator mark Leno who had authored similar pieces of
legislation for years and deserves equal credit here I’m going I have the
privilege of introducing the Attorney General so I really don’t want to take
much of the limelight here I just want I’d I just want to say I just want to
say right on right on you know what’s that you go girl you better believe it
you know what you know what we last for five years you know we really have been
struggling to and working hard with it with little fanfare to a deal with
difficult budgets and deficits and serious problems and you know what we’ve
come through a lot of it we still have a lot of work to go today represents a
signature achievement and a dramatic step forward for tens of thousands of
people who are trying really hard in a difficult economy and who simply want to
keep their home and we won’t know all of them we won’t know everyone who will
benefit but this is the way it’s supposed to work around here and the way
it worked today and none of it would have been possible without an aggressive
attorney general who decided that the first round of settlement talks when it
came to the national mortgage settlement was not nearly enough that California
deserved and its people needed more and she set the table here and we simply
have followed through today and so on behalf of the people of the grateful
people of California it’s my pleasure to introduce the Attorney General of the
state of California Kamala Harris so let me start by thanking these leaders who
stand on the stage each of them in a very significant way through this
process has been a leader as a voice for very voiceless and vulnerable people
they have been in the midst of the challenging decisions that they have to
make around the state budget been paying an incredible amount of intention to the
details of this legislation they have been meeting with their constituents and
all who have an interest or concern or opinion about this package of
legislation I have watched them as they have patiently for hours on end listen
to the stories i have watched them as they have spent hours and hours with the
members of their hard-working staff with the members of my office and others
going through the detail in terms of the legal definitions and meaning of
specific parts of this bill i have witnessed an incredible amount of not
only cooperation but collaboration and compromise many are often especially in
these difficult economic times cynical about the role of our legislators but i
am here to say they are an incredible group of people who are incredibly
hard-working have taken their oath very seriously
and as a result of the work that they have done in their leadership will
benefit people who for the most part will never know their names and will
never have an opportunity to personally thank them but as the Attorney General
and as someone who has been working on this for a long time with them I want to
just take this opportunity publicly to thank each one of you for everything you
have done and in particular I want to thank speaker Perez Senate Pro Tem
Darrell Steinberg I want to thank the conference committee chairs and
co-chairs my gang Noreen Evans member Mike Feuer Senator Ron Calderon assembly
member at Nancy Skinner Wilmer Carter Mike Davis and Holly Mitchell and on the
Senate side of course mark Leno Loni Hancock fran pavley Ellen Corbett and
mark DeSaulnier as many of you know California played a significant role in
participating with ultimately 48 other attorneys general in what has been
called the national mortgage settlement regarding the robo-signing activity that
was the subject of investigation as a result of our role in that settlement
discussion we were able to bring 18 billion dollars back to California to
directly benefit California homeowners and neighborhoods and communities it was
our intention at the time that we entered into that settlement that the
work would not stop there it included the work of the mortgage fraud strike
force which continues to this day to investigate and take seriously
misconduct false claims that have been associated with the origination of loans
with the servicing of loans and in connection with mortgage-backed
securities our focus was also to do everything we could to make permanent
the reforms that were part of the national settlement why because we met
over a year and a half with homeowners met with families in Stockton and in
fresno and los bonos we met with folks who told stories that were
heart-wrenching we met with a young father who was recently widowed raising
his two children by himself and lost his job was in the process of a foreclosure
and trying to keep his home and simply trying to play by the rules that was the
rules that were outlined for him in terms of modifying his loan payments and
he told us about how in the process of playing by the rules without notice the
bank was about to forecloses on his home and he got noticed that his house was
being sold on the front steps of City Hall this legislation was about him this
legislation was about that grandmother that we met with in Fresno who gave a
similar story of pain of despair of desperation and depression around the
fact that the home that had been the family home was about to be lost and she
just wanted a fair process that provided transparency and allowed her who wanted
to play by the rules some ability to actually keep her home because she
wanted to pay to keep it and do it in a way that gave her a fair set of rules
that everyone was playing by she didn’t used the word but what she wanted was
transparency in this system that is a system everyone should be able to avail
themselves of when they believe in the American dream what we did today is we
gave those families some promise that they can be in a system that allows them
a fair opportunity to be the responsible homeowners that they want to be so that
they can keep that home and the shelter where they raised their children that
place where they expect to retire to live with dignity so again I want to
thank everyone here and I think we all should feel very good that we have done
something that was just the right thing to do thank you good afternoon I’m Ethan
Hoff I’m a grateful homeowner and I’m thrilled with the decision today and I
want to especially thank attorney general Harris for her follow through I
also played by the rules and my story is a little bit different but I’m been
asked to share the process that I ended up going through with my lender wells
fargo I fell behind on my property taxes i had twenty three thousand dollars
behind in sacramento county property taxes so I contacted my lender and this
is in August 2011 to see if I could get some help buy a new interest rates were
at an all-time low so by maybe lowering my interest rate i could not after you
pay the 23,000 outright that it would be structured into my into my loan they
told me about a home modification program hamp and so it sounded really
good to me and i started the process and in doing so this is they told me it
would take 30 to 45 days well it’s now almost 11 months later and I’m I’m in a
trial period i’m i’m hopeful that it’s going to be a permanent modification
soon but what i ended up going through in the system is that I would end up
calling wells fargo in each time i would talk to a different person I’ve talked
to over 30 different individual each time i would call i would get a
different opinion i also was assigned a single point of contact however that
person was never available i may put in 10-15 calls and not get a call back so
when i called the person i spoke to the representative often said well you need
to talk to your single point of contact I said that’s great but I can’t get
ahold of him he doesn’t return my calls I placed over a hundred calls through to
wells fargo I’ve sent over 20 29 faxes this binder illustrates the information
that I provided Wells Fargo also in terms of of the process information the
documentation had to be submitted in a timely fashion so there was a catch 22 I
submitted my pay warrants I’ve submitted my bank statements so if I did that for
march i called in april and they said well you know we need to have current
documentation your documents are from March it’s April now you have to
resubmit that’s why my binder is so so thick so I’m very hopeful that the new
legislation will will help struggling homeowners like me I’m now on a positive
note I because of my complaints I think with the consumer Bureau and the
attorney general’s office I’m now in a trial period I have been getting phone
calls returned through the Wells Fargo Wells Fargo’s complaint division they
have we have returned my calls everyone within 48 hours and i’m in a trial
period and hopefully my modification will take place and i will be able to to
keep my home so anyway thank you for listening to my story thank you for reminding us that these
laws are about real people and real lives and the best of luck to you thank
you sir now we want to have a few words I know this is going on a while but you
know people who work day and night to develop a product that can pass in the
way these measures passed here today deserve more than a minute or two at the
microphone and those are the members of the conference committee on both the
assembly and the Senate side and I also invited Senator Leno though not a member
of the conference committee was instrumental in the passage of this
legislation so one by one we’ll start with Senator Noreen Evans then we’ll go
Senate assembly Senate assembly and then we will we will be glad to take your
questions enter Evans great job thank you I think it’s a proud day for
Californians and this is an historic piece of legislation it’s the first of
its kind in the nation and it’s appropriate that we passed it out of the
legislature during the week that we celebrate July fourth because July
fourth is all about celebrating the American Dream and home ownership is a
big part of the American dream so when families are losing their homes and over
a million California families lost their homes between 2008 and 2011 those
Californians are losing their slice of the California Dream so this is a piece
of legislation that is a compromise it’s an important and significant piece that
will help homeowners have a small tool in which to enforce their rights under
the law and under the settlement agreement we’ve been working very
closely with the governor’s office in crafting it and I have every hope that
he will sign the legislation and that Californians will be far more protective
than they have been in the past I also want to thank everybody that’s been
involved here but also the staff the staff for all of the conferees worked
literally day and night and on weekends to get to this compromise and they’ve
just done a fabulous job and again I think this will benefit all of
California q thank you thank you thank you very
much and I echo that I’m some leavin my king the other co-chair and I would I
just want to say this is a historic day if you look at the vote on the assembly
side it was 54 two-thirds of our assembly legislators voted for this bill
and I think on the Senate side by an equal margin and what one of the reasons
that we had a conference committee so that we could take testimony over 20
hours of public testimony gut-wrenching heartwarming testimony and what we
discovered was that nobody benefits from foreclosures everybody wanted to
solution banks lose fifty thousand dollars for every home that they
foreclosed on local government loses twenty thousand dollars for lost
property taxes and extra police and fire protection 500,000 Californians at risk
for the last five years every year every 13 seconds someone in America loses
their home by the time that we’ve been here today over a hundred people have
lost their home in California in California seven out of the top ten
cities lead the nation in foreclosures everybody wanted a solution and I think
we have reached it and I want to close by thanking of course everyone’s here
enjoyed really working with my co-chair Noreen Evans on the assembly side mr.
fear did an extraordinary job as well as the staff and especially our attorney
general like to close by this thought California was sinking on a Titanic of
foreclosures and your settlement of 18 billion dollars allowed the first
lifeboat to reach the shore but there are many many thousands more on that
sinking lifeboat which is that sinking ship which is sinking our economy and
that’s why we are empowering through this legislation lifeboats to carry
those individuals from California from a point of danger to a point of safety
thank you very much and America happy birthday this is your finest hour and
one a California’s finest hour I good job Mike well you’ve heard up
you’ve heard us mention our staffs a few times we can’t really mention them
enough and I know I’m going to embarrass them but I would really like you to
acknowledge the hard work that they’ve done wit where the negotiators we are
the ones that find the middle ground but these people we wouldn’t be able to even
arrive without their help I want to announce introduce Eileen new hall from
my banking committee staff Saskia Kim Anthony Williams Anthony this is the
speakers I mean the Pro tems I’m sorry the Pro tems staff who we couldn’t have
done without it come pamela harris is brian nelson and michael tran cosa tell
me out marco marco första thank you so much and everybody in this room should
if you get a chance send of a thank you letter or go up and shake their hand
because they are just phenomenal we could have done it without them you know
this day brings relief for millions of California homeowners looking for a way
to save what what’s for most of us the most important investment investment
will ever make that’s our homes and I’d like to thank Senator Steinberg for
appointing me to the conference committee that crafted this legislation
it was a responsibility that I gladly accepted in his in His infinite wisdom
Senator Steinberg placed me on the committee knowing that I would help
craft legislation that would not only shelter borrowers and the economy but
but also survived a Senate floor vote that’s really where it all ends right
and today we had 25 25 Senate votes and 53 Assembly votes and
54 and that’s something to be very very proud of it I’m very proud to say that
that’s a mission accomplished as a swing vote on the committee I was seeking a
balance between very legitimate interests it had been juxtaposed by by
this issue the recovery of our economy and then the rights of hundreds of
thousands of homeowners hoping to hold on to their home their American dream on
one hand distressed homeowners and their advocates lobbied hard to punish lenders
for abuses that were committed during the foreclosure crisis but on the other
hand banks and others lobby to minimize their liability and sought legislation
that provided clear guidelines to follow in the long run what we’ve accomplished
is if you’re a homeowner and you can afford to stay in your home you now have
a right to to apply for a loan modification without any fear of
receiving a foreclosure notice until you there is a determination on whether or
not you qualify for the loan or whether or reasons for being denied and on the
other hand if you’re a lender and you’ve accepted an application for a loan
modification you are no longer in fear of getting sued as long as you provide
an answer to the to the loan application and reasons why you’ve approved it or
not approved it so I think that that strikes the perfect balance I don’t see
any reason why anybody should be upset with that solution with that I want to
thank again all of you for for being here thank you conference committee for
all your hard work and i’m going to introduce so many member Michael Furey
now thank you Ron so I i want to make two points but before I do I want to
build on the gratitude Mart farooq of mr. Hanks banking staff Kevin Baker from
Jashari committee and three staff members from the speaker of the
Assembly’s office are nice ol fredericka magritte McGee and Deborah Doty also all
deserve a special round of applause now we stood just a couple or three
months ago on this very stage answering questions from some skeptical reporters
and one in particular was you know you have been grappling as a legislature
with how to resolve the foreclosure crisis and really bring help to
Californians for years what makes this year different well what a difference a
few months makes here’s what made this year different which made this year
different was a collective determination to make this the time when we finally
delivered relief to homeowners across the state a collective commitment to
build on the promises that were made by the nation’s leading servicers in the
National settlement agreement and by the way as to that settlement and what
distinguishes what we’ve done today from that that national settlement was very
monumental but that national settlement did not provide for the ability of any
individual homeowner to vindicate his or her rights even if under the settlement
those rights have been violated not in California not as soon as Governor Brown
signs this legislation because here we’ve established that with important
responsibilities and duties come rights come rights that one has the opportunity
to pursue in court not frivolous rights rights that are affecting the basic
merits of whether you should remain in your home or not and I think that this
legislation is going to be the catalyst for a change across the country because
now every resident of every state is going to demand of their elected
officials the same protections that we’re delivering to Californians today
so a great congratulations to all of us who have been participating in this the
Attorney General has been marvelous in this effort and I think that this is a
portent of things to come because you’re seeing a legislature that is building on
success after success and this is the beginning of what is going to be a
series of achievements this year that will demonstrate the California’s
legislature and governor working together can solve our most intractable
problems thanks very much I’ll keep the last word short I think if
I’ve learned anything my now 10 years in Sacramento is that when I pick up an
issue or when any of us do as a legislator that if it is of any major
significance it’s probably not going to happen the first time around sometimes
it doesn’t happen the second and sometimes it doesn’t happen the third
the game changer in this instance was the success of Attorney General Kamala
Harris when I saw that settlement agreed upon I thought we now have a chance
everything will change within the legislature and the conference committee
proved that to be true but if there’s one thing yet to be delivered it’s to
all of the legal aid and advocacy groups who have kept this drumbeat going for
four years now thank you just you know there there are thousands tens of
thousands unfortunately hundreds of thousands of heartbreaking stories each
of them but one day I remember very clearly was joining a group of over
1,200 community folks at a church in oakland on a saturday morning to
describe how not only had they experienced themselves the heartbreak of
an avoidable home foreclosure but the collect the collectivity of it the the
totality of it had decimated neighborhood after neighborhood after it
was as if a bomb had gone off in these communities in oakland so much of it
avoidable the success that we’ve had today is with every intent to avoid any
more bombs going off in communities across the state of california thank you
for I just a lot of people were thinking I
want to add in addition anthony williams and my staff to think Margie Estrada and
Suzanne word bin ski for their years of work on this as well thank you

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