TO: Members of the Pinellas County Florida Legislative Delegation
Dear Members: As you prepare for the Start of the 2010 Legislative Session, I want to thank you for all the good work you are doing for the citizens of the State of Florida and for your neighbors here in Pinellas County.
I am an attorney who represents many of your neighbors in the foreclosure cases that are pending in Pinellas County courts. The vast majority of my clients find themselves in foreclosure because they or their spouse have lost a job, are facing expensive medical issues or have suffered some other setback that was beyond their control. By and large your neighbors who are facing foreclosure want to stay in their homes. They want to continue to make regular monthly payments, maintain their homes and continue to pay the taxes and other expenses related to home ownership. These good people are simply suffering through the worst economic times of this generation. With modest payment and term modifications from their lenders, most borrowers would be able to stay in their homes and most would gladly work with their lenders to make these modified payments.
Banks are Not Working With Borrowers
Your neighbors in foreclosure have tried desperately to work with their lender to try and modify their mortgage or come up with some solution other than foreclosure. I know this because I require my clients to keep a detailed journal of all their attempts to call, write or communicate with their lender. These borrowers have made dozens, sometimes hundreds of phone calls and faxed paperwork back and forth. If they hear anything at all, it’s ” Sorry we cannot help you.” Having said that, more often than not, they get no response at all from their lender other than, ” We’ve lost your paperwork, please send it again.” This is not just my opinion or anecdotal information, these statements are confirmed by the information published by the federal government. As of October 2009, the Federal Government’s Making Homes Affordable program reported that only 82,614 Floridians had obtained a trial mortgage modification. That same report estimates that nearly 10% of mortgages in Florida are more than 60+ days delinquent.
(See report here)
Banks Are Receiving Billions in Federal Aid
While the federal government has provided at least $50 billion in federal aid to the major lenders in the US Troubled Asset Relief Program (See GAO-09-837 July 23, 2009), the Federal Housing Finance Agency reports that the HAMP and related modification efforts had initiated only 43,000 HAMP permanent modifications and 442,500 active trial modifications as of December, 2009. Amazingly, according to the latest information published by the Federal government, only 8,405 Floridians have received permanent modifications from their lenders. One more time so this is clear”¦..out of more than $50 billion in federal aid, ONLY 8,405 FLORIDIANS HAVE RECEIVED A FORMAL MORTGAGE MODIFICATION. (See report here.) In short, the facts published by the federal government and the mortgage industry show that while the very lenders who helped caused the breakdown of the American financial system are helping themselves to billions of dollars in federal aid, your neighbors are not being helped at all.
A Pig With Lipstick On Is Still A Pig
As my elected Representative in Tallahassee, I hope you are sufficiently aware of the popular uprising against the greed and arrogance of the banks, lenders and Wall Street in general. As your neighbors here in Pinellas County are struggling to survive these difficult economic times, they’re watching the institutions and fat cats on Wall Street take bigger profits and bonuses than ever before. While all the obscene profits and general arrogance is bad enough, I hope that you will share my outrage at the bank’s attempts to insult you and other elected leaders and the citizens of the State of Florida when they chose to name their new anti-consumer bill ” The Florida Consumer Protection and Homeowner Credit Rehabilitation Act”. The insult here is there is not the first thing in this proposed legislation that offers any benefit to consumers or homeowners or consumers at all. I am insulted and incensed that these fat cat, cigar chomping anti-consumer greedy bankers think they can attach a name to legislation which totally misrepresents the nature of that legislation in the apparent hope that elected leaders and citizens won’t be smart enough to figure out the title totally misrepresents the purpose and effect of the legislation.
The Florida Consumer Protection and Homeowner Credit Rehabilitation Act- A Dramatic and Totally Unnecessary Change in Florida’s Homestead and Property Rights
From the time Florida became a state, laws relating to a citizen’s homestead were simple. If law enforcement wanted to get in a citizen’s home, they made their case before a judge and if the judge determined their claims were warranted, the judge granted a search warrant and law enforcement was granted access. Likewise, if a homeowner defaulted on his mortgage and the lender wants to take the home back, that lender need only prove up that interest up before a judge, then the judge grants foreclosure and the consumer loses possession of his home. The problem many of the lenders trying to foreclose today face is they cannot or just don’t want to go through the effort to prove even the most basic facts to support their right to foreclose. Rather than fix the organizational and systemic problems the lenders have created that would allow them to prove up their right to foreclose, the lenders are asking the Florida Legislature to toss out the property rights rule book and create an entirely new system that would stack the deck entirely in their favor and totally against the homeowner. As a voter, a constituent and an attorney who is on the front lines of this issue and who sees how it affects your neighbors every day, I want to implore you to vote NO against any version of The Florida Consumer Protection and Homeowner Credit Rehabilitation Act. Please save my information and please contact me directly if I may provide additional information or testify when this bad legislation comes before committee.
Respectfully, Matthew Weidner