San Francisco Board Land Use Committee Unanimously Passes Home Foreclosure Moratorium Resolution

On Monday, April 2, 2012, Occupy Bernal and ACCE (Alliance of Californians For Community Empowerment) and two San Francisco City Board of Supervisors, David Campos (District 9) and John Avalos (District 11) announced their intention to vote on a foreclosure moratorium at a 2:00 p.m. meeting of the Land Use Committee.

At a 1:30 p.m. Press Conference on City Hall steps, several homeowners, whose houses were at risk or had been foreclosed upon, spoke passionately about the pain and suffering big banks, specifically Wells Fargo Bank, brought to their own and their neighbors’ lives.

Ross Rhodes, foreclosure fighter from Bayview Hunters Point boomed passionately, “These predators loans … were singled out for us minorities. You came into our communities and bull-jived us about the … predator loans you put out. They knew the properties were going to fail.  We want the American Dream like anybody else.  We bailed them out when they were in trouble. Now it’s time for them to bail us out!

Inside City Hall during the Land Use Committee hearing, Kathryn Galves spoke about the powerful health impacts on her of Wells Fargo evicting her, her sister, and their dog from her valuable Noe Valley Victorian home of 40 years the prior week.

Thanks to Vivian [Richardson] of Occupy San Francisco — she took us in.  She took in three orphans on that same day that we were evicted.  Otherwise we’d be drenched and wet and soaked because we had no place to go.

Please! Please! Please!  Stop these foreclosures!” Kathy insisted she didn’t want others to “throw away their memories, their emotions, their treasures.”

Through Spanish interpreter, ACCE’s Erin Franey, Maria Villareal’s raw, sore voice spoke of the health stress of Wells Fargo’s foreclosure threat on her and her husband who underwent recent surgery.

The hearing was divided into three parts.

First, Supervisors Campos, Avalos, Olague and Cohen sponsored a presentation of Assessor-Recorder, Phil Ting’s commissioned report, “Foreclosure in California: A Crisis of Compliance,” an audit in which Equitas Corporation researched statistics and found irregularities in a majority of foreclosures focused on communities of color, particularly in the South – Southeastern part of San Francisco in District 9, 10, and 11.

“The system is completely broken,” said Ting.

Then, Avalos, Kim and Cohen sponsored a presentation of “strategies, policies, administrative actions, and other potential steps that the City and County of San Francisco can take to address the foreclosure crisis affecting our residents and disproportionately impacting certain neighborhoods.

Ed Donaldson, housing counselor for the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, emphasized, “It’s hard for a counselor or anyone that’s a human being not to care for another human being as well as to internalize the pain and suffering that folks may be going through.” Counselors like him are so deeply affected by the pain and suffering of their clients, he reported, that the counselor burn-out rate is approximately 12 to 18 months. “SFHDC is down to one counselor. and that’s me.”

Mr. Donaldson suggested the possible efficacy of a Boston model, including a two-part solution addressing San Francisco’s foreclosure crisis. One: Lease the home back to the client. Two: Create a loan pool that allows the client to buy the house back.

Finally, Avalos, Campos, Chiu, Kim, Mar, Olague and Cohen sponsored a resolution “supporting the California Homeowner Bill of Rights; urging City and County officials and departments to protect homeowners from unlawful foreclosures; and urging City contractors and all mortgage and banking institutions, especially San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, to suspend foreclosure activities and related auctions and evictions until State and Federal measures to protect homeowners from unfair and unlawful practices and provisions for principal reductions are in place.”

After a brief debate in which Scott Weiner and Malia Cohen questioned targeting Wells Fargo above other predator banks, a six-member quorum of the Board unanimously passed the resolution for a moratorium on foreclosures.  This resolution was then sent to the whole Board of Supervisors which could potentially pass the resolution during the next Board meeting, April 10, 2012.

Photo & Story by Carol Harvey