Coalition of Civil Rights Organizations And Community Groups Call for Increased Principal Reduction, More Transparency in National Mortgage Settlement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2013
 
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Andrew Sousa
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Coalition of Civil Rights Organizations and Community Groups Call for Increased Principal Reduction, More Transparency in National Mortgage Settlement 
National Mortgage Settlement Monitor outlines implementation progress, future efforts for borrower relief 
 
NOTE:  The summit will be live streamed at 9:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday February 27, 2013, at http://www.nclr.org/mortgagesettlement
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.—At a summit with the monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement, the nation’s leading civil rights groups and community-based housing advocates called for increased principal reduction and more transparency in settlement implementation to ensure that communities of color are benefitting from loan modifications and other measures designed to help borrowers keep their homes.
 
The Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight released its third Monitor’s Report last week, which outlines the consumer relief activities the five banks that are parties to the Settlement have conducted since March 1, 2012.  The banks disclosed that, so far, they have extended more than $45.8 billion in gross relief to more than 550,000 borrowers or roughly $82,668 per homeowner. 
 
“After a year of work by the stakeholders in the Settlement, we have seen borrowers receive more than $45 billion in much-needed relief, and ResCap Parties (the former GMAC and affiliates) meet and receive credit for its consumer relief obligation,” said Joseph A. Smith, Jr., Monitor of the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.  “We also have set up a compliance infrastructure to measure servicing standards over the longer term.  I believe we have made progress, particularly as it relates to consumer relief, but I know from my regular conversations with advocates across the nation that the banks and I have much more work to do on behalf of borrowers.”
 
The mortgage crisis has affected Americans of all backgrounds but communities of color were hardest hit by deceptive lending practices.  Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans were more likely to receive high-priced loans than White borrowers with the same credit scores and experienced racial disparities in subprime lending in all regions of the country. This has resulted in higher rates of foreclosures in these communities and has contributed to the widening of the racial wealth gap.
 
“The foreclosure epidemic has drained two-thirds of household wealth from Latino families.  With millions struggling to hold on to their most important asset, it is critical that relief efforts reach hard-hit communities,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).  “If this is to be a year of recovery, we must prioritize rebuilding the assets of families who have lost or might still lose their homes.  This is not just a matter of helping those families recover; it’s an essential element of any strategy to help all families, and the nation’s economy, get back on solid ground.”
 
The summit was hosted by the Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities, a collaborative of the National Urban League, the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, and the National Council of La Raza.  Collectively, these organizations serve more than 115,000 families a year through their network of 95 community-based housing counseling affiliates.
 
“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are concentrated in some of the hardest-hit areas, where they face the steepest declines in home prices and experience a disproportionate number of foreclosures,” said Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.  “We must ensure that consumer relief measures offered through the Mortgage Settlement are available to those most impacted by the housing crisis.  Our housing counseling agencies are providing culturally appropriate services to give our families the opportunity to rebuild their wealth and financial security, which are critical to the economic recovery of our nation.”
 
In February 2012, 49 state attorneys general reached a settlement with five of the nation's largest banks, which acknowledges that the loan servicers violated the law by routinely signing foreclosure documents without the presence of a notary public and without knowing whether the information in the documents was factual.  The settlement provides up to $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers and direct payments to states and the federal government.
 
“The foreclosure crisis has brought about the greatest loss of wealth for African Americans since Reconstruction," said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “It's imperative that any relief measures apply to communities of color in equal proportion to the damage that has been wrought.”
 
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The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities.  Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its local affiliates through the development of direct service programs; and through the public policy research and advocacy activities of the National Urban League Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.  Today, there are nearly 100 local Urban League affiliates in 36 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than two million people nationwide.
 
The National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) was founded in 1999 with the mission to be a powerful voice for the unique community development needs of AAPI communities and to strengthen the capacity of community‐based organizations to create neighborhoods of hope and opportunity. For more information, visit our Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
 
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.