Tuesday Report, Nov. 23, 2010
Special to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service
Attorneys general from all 50 states have filed class action suits against major mortgage holders for using sloppy and fraudulent documents to press foreclosures.
As national foreclosures rates drop, Texas rises: one in ten mortgage holders are now threatened with foreclosure.
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Foreclosure class actions pile up against banks
By Curt Anderson and Michelle Conklin Associated Press November 17, 2010
NEW YORK — Foreclosure-fraud class action lawsuits are starting to pile up against major banks across the U.S., threatening a besieged industry with billions more in potential losses.
Bank executives are swarming Capitol Hill this week to defend themselves against multiple foreclosure-related investigations, including one by all 50 state attorneys general. Talks are under way in that probe in hopes of reaching a settlement, but that wouldn’t extinguish the mounting threat of an avalanche of class actions.
A congressional watchdog said in a report issued Tuesday that the foreclosure document debacle could threaten major banks with billions of dollars in losses, further prolong the housing depression and damage the government’s effort to keep people in their homes.
The class actions, which could be expanded nationally, seek damages for homeowners whose properties were illegally foreclosed upon by banks using fraudulent documents.
Under Fire, Foreclosure King Resigns
By Andy Kroll Mother Jones November 21, 2010
It’s all unraveling for David J. Stern, the South Florida foreclosure attorney who built a once-formidable foreclosure empire only to see it crumble in recent months. On Friday, DJSP Enterprises, Stern’s publicly traded foreclosure processing company, announced his resignation as president and CEO. Replacing him is Stephen Bernstein, a prominent real estate executive in Florida. It’s Bernstein’s job now to turn around a company that’s lost 96 percent of its initial market capitalization of $300 million in less than a year. The company has never recovered from an unexpected dip in business that caused DJSP’s stock to plummet this spring. DJSP’s stock value has hovered around $.50 a share for the past week.
Report: More Texans falling behind on mortgage payments
By Steve Brown Dallas Morning News November 18, 2010
More Texans fell behind on their mortgage payments in the third quarter.
Almost one in 10 of the state’s residents with home loans were at least one month late at the end of September, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday.
That’s slightly higher than the nationwide home loan delinquency rate, which was 9.39 percent in the third quarter.
Late mortgage payment levels in Texas rose to 9.65 percent at the same time they were falling slightly across the country, the mortgage industry group said.
“The number of loans in foreclosure also dropped [nationally], bringing the serious delinquency rate to its lowest level since the second quarter of 2009,” Michael Fratantoni, the mortgage bankers’ vice president of research and economics, said in the report.
Congress approves $44 million for Hurricane Ike victims
Houston Chronicle November 18, 2010
The federal government is extending a helping hand to an estimated 2,500 Harris County families that are still struggling with unfinished home repairs more than two years after Hurricane Ike churned through the greater Houston area.
The lame-duck Congress took bipartisan action today to help almost 28,000 families in the greater Houston area that are struggling with various aftermaths of the storm.
On a vote of 366 to 40, the House passed and sent to the White House a measure that will provide $44 million in federal assistance to Texas residents. The measure awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature gives Texas and 13 other states one more year to spend $152.5 million remaining in a $600 million emergency assistance package for local social service agencies to assist victims of Hurricane Ike.
Full story at: http://blogs.chron.com/txpotomac/2010/11/post_352.html
Day on the streets gives Ott striking view of the city
By Ken Herman Austin American-Statesman Nov. 12, 2010
Seven months after the experience, Austin City Manager Marc Ott finally is ready to talk about it. After not shaving for a week, Ott put on old clothes, stuffed some stuff in a duffel bag, and spent an April day and night doing his best to understand what it is like to be homeless in downtown Austin. ”For me, the experience started immediately in the sense that the way I characterize it is I became invisible,” he said. “And what I mean by that is as I walked along the way and would encounter people, unlike a normal day for me, no one wanted to make eye contact with me. They’d look the other way or down or move to the far side of the sidewalk or cross the street.” Ott opted for simulated homelessness because he was uncomfortable talking about the issue without knowing more about it.
Man’s suicide in Dallas renews calls for help for the homeless
By Kim Horner Dallas Morning News November 22, 2010
Richard Antwine’s lifelong struggle with mental illness had him in and out of local psychiatric treatment facilities over the years – but he always ended up back on the streets.
That cycle came to an end Nov. 9, when Antwine tied a shirt around his neck and hanged himself from the Houston Street viaduct near downtown Dallas. The highly public suicide stopped evening rush-hour traffic.
Last year, the 49-year-old man shared his story with The Dallas Morning News as part of a series on chronic homelessness. He, like other chronically homeless people, was stuck in a revolving door of psychiatric care, homelessness and prison. The series explored how taxpayers spend millions sheltering, incarcerating and treating the severely ill population without solving the problem.
There are an estimated 600 to 1,000 chronically homeless people in Dallas.
Full story at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/112310dnmethomeless.3f5ab63.html