Tag Archives: homes

WAFT blockade! Go, WAFT, go!!!!

WAFT1
Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team in front of Lake Ave. property

By Gordon Davis
 
On January 13, 2016, the Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team (WAFT) blockaded the foreclosure auction of two houses in Worcester Massachusetts.

The auctions were both held at 3 PM and the group had to divide its forces.
 
I went to the blockade of the auction on Lake Ave. Such blockades are suppositionally legal, as seen in the statue:
 
M.G. L. Chapter 244, Section 1
A mortgagee may, after breach of condition of a mortgage of land, recover possession of the land mortgaged by an open and peaceable entry thereon, if not opposed by the mortgagor or other person claiming it, or by action under this chapter; and possession so obtained, if continued peaceably for three years from the date of recording of the memorandum or certificate as provided in section two, shall forever foreclose the right of redemption.

The key phrase is “If not opposed.” The mortgagors with the support of WAFT opposed the auction.
 
The WAFT people were already in front of the house holding signs when I arrived. They had parked their cars in front of the house to make it a little more inconvenient for the bidders to reach the property.

The bidders parked across busy Lake Ave., which is where the bank lawyer also parked.
 
One of the WAFT volunteers tried to engage the lawyer by asking his name, but he refused to give it.

WAFT3
 
As a symbol of the blockade, the WAFT people, led by Chis Horton, held a long caution tape in front of the property and on the sidewalk. It seemed to work, as the bidders never crossed the tape.
 
The auction was held on the sidewalk, just north of the property.

Before the auction, one of the bidders asked us why should he not bid on the property. One young man tried to explain, but he eventually asked Chris to come over and talk with the gentleman. The conversation was polite, but the bidder went to the auction seemingly unconvinced by the WAFT arguments.
 
The mortgagor is Gerald who has suffered a debilitating injury preventing him from working. He is now disabled.

He has been trying to get mortgage modification with the banks for a number of years and hasn’t had any luck with them.

There is a claim of evidence of bank fraud.

Gerald had given up hope and had begun to pack his belongings to move.

After meeting with WAFT, he became hopeful and decided to fight the eviction.
 
As the auction began some of the WAFT blockaders began to chant anti foreclosure mantras. Soon the auction was over. None of the bids were acceptable to the bank. The bank bought the property back.

Gerald and his family will remain in the property, at least for a while.
 
Patricia, a member of WAFT, came late to Lake Ave., as she was at the other blockage on Lyman St. At one time she too was being foreclosed on and said that she wanted to help, as she was helped.
 
WAFT meets at the Pleasant Street Neighborhood Center on Pleasant Street, in Piedmont. The group is looking for more people to help with education and other actions.

Reposting InCity Times articles on foreclosure mediation programs. (Why Worcester needs one!)

By Michael Gaffney, Worcester City Councilor at Large candidate

As you are aware, the issue of foreclosure mediation has been debated by the Worcester City Council for several months with plenty of discussion, but no action.  Growing frustrated with the lack of action, I wrote to the most vocal council member on the topic as follows.  I did not seek to attach myself to the issue for political advantage; rather, I handed out a solution and would have been satisfied if any action were taken to achieve a result.  Clearly, if any action had been taken, I would not be writing.  I will let the email chain speak for itself:

On Apr 2, 2013, at 9:16 PM, I wrote to an email from my phone titled “Foreclosure Mediation” to Councilor X:

Springfield Mass program seems to work…  Looks like a settlement just made to implement the plan:

http://blog.aboutrsi.org/2012/program-management/foreclosure-mediation-upheld-against-cons titutional-challenge/

RI has plans in Cranston, Providence and Warwick:

http://www.housingwire.com/news/2010/01/12/rhode-island-city-set-roll-out-foreclosure-medi ation-servicer-fines

So, it appears we have a format to follow.  Love the fine Springfield imposes against the banks for not attending.

The RI bankruptcy court also has a plan for mediation in Chapter 13 plans.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

Response from Councilor X:

Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

Email sent to Councilor X on April 3, 2013

Councilor X:

I sent over some information to you last night relative to the foreclosure programs in other cities. Now that I am at a computer, I am able to forward more substantial information.  I have attended a number of conferences on the issue relative to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s program in Chapter 13 Plans that started in RI, so I have a bit of background.

Attached you will find the Springfield and Providence Ordinances.

Springfield uses a neutral not-for-cost mediation program. There are several options available. First, you could simply try the Worcester Bar Association to administer a program of volunteers (POC = Polly Tatum, President #508-795-1557.) Second, the Better Business Bureau currently administers the Lemon Law Arbitration Program under Massachusetts Law, the arbitrators get a “gratuity” of $100.00 per case (POC Nancy Cahalen, President #508-755-3340 x109.) Third, the District Court uses a mediation program formally administered by the WCAC now being administered by Mediation Services of North Central Mass (I do not have any contacts other than what is listed on the website – POC Elaine Sherrin, Director #978-466-9595.) Finally, the Massachusetts Justice Project currently runs the Lawyer for the Day Program and through  volunteers administers free legal services such as bankruptcy cases (I do handle free bankruptcy cases, but do not have a POC, the just send them over to me, the main number is #800-639-1209.)

I just don’t see where implementation of such a program would cost the city an inordinate amount of funds. Further, where we have language concerning ordinances in use, this matter shouldn’t continue to drag out in meeting after meeting. Finally, where the Federal District Court found the ordinance in Springfield to be constitutional and where the banks challenging it settled (and agreed to be bound) before the Appeals Court, passing such a measure is less likely to face a legal challenge or cost the city to defend it.

I am not trying to insert myself in this matter; rather, I been hearing the debate for several months and find it vexing that no progress has been made. This has been your issue; hence, I have communicated with you. If I can be of further assistance, let me know.

Thank you.

Michael Gaffney

On Apr 3, 2013, at 5:27 PM, I wrote:After review of the last paragraph of my last email, consulting with my wife and a friend, it appears I miscommunicated my thoughts.  I meant to say that the situation was not being resolved, that you were leading the charge on the issue and I was sending you information to help you out directly as this has been near and dear to you.Unfortunately, the way in which I communicated was as if you weren’t getting things done.  That is absolutely not what I intended.  I tend to focus on resolving an issue and am less careful about how I communicate.   Clearly I will need to improve my delivery.  I had hoped to help and instead I may have inadvertently insulted you.  It was not my intent. 

I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

Michael

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Smartphone

 

Response from Councilor X, April 3, 2013:

No problem. I appreciated you sending the info.

Sent from my iPhone

Article sent to the Editor, Worcester Telegram and Gazette, May 1, 2013 (unpublished, but plenty of specious and inane comments were published on May 3, 2013)

Dear Sir/Madam:

Your recent article titled “Big Banks win again” concerning the $5,000.00 foreclosure bond ordinance showed the short falls in the current bond requirement.  We need to fix the unintended consequences of the bond requirement and strengthen the ordinance to help our citizens in foreclosure.

The cities of Springfield and Providence have passed ordinances that require the mortgage holder to mediate with the homeowner prior to foreclosure.  Springfield’s ordinance was upheld in Federal District Court and was settled on Appeal.  All the tools we need to update our ordinance are available and can be easily implemented.  We need to rewrite the current ordinance to protect our citizens.  We can’t let another month pass and another family be put out on the street without taking action.

Michael T. Gaffney

Worcester

Today is May 5, 2013.

*******************************

A mortgage mediation program for Worcester

Written by admin on August 21st, 2013

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

Mortgage mediation is a process whereby during the foreclosure process, a representative from the bank meets with the homeowner relative to a mortgage workout. Getting two parties to sit down in a neutral environment to discuss the issues often yields positive results. A property lost to foreclosure lowers surrounding property values and seriously disrupts neighborhoods.

On August 19, 2013, per the Telegram and Gazette, the administration of the City of Worcester reported that it would not back an ordinance to establish a mediation program on property entering into foreclosure.
The reasons given for not implementing such a program were costs, logistics and legality:

As to costs, there are far too many volunteer organization as well as services operating under a block grant that provide free services to our courts and other programs. There are also numerous low cost providers. Cost is simply not a viable argument.
Logistically, the City of Worcester already requires a $5,000.00 bond for potential costs upon the filing of a foreclosure; therefore, someone is already assigned to review the bond and a tracking mechanism is already in place. The time involved in a referral to a mediation program is nominal.

As to the alleged legal issue, in the August 19, 2013 edition of the Telegram and Gazette, the City Solicitor claims that the Springfield ordinance is pending appeal which is mostly accurate. On July 2, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit filed by the banks against Springfield’s mediation ordinance stating “the modest effort made by the city to soften the crisis through the promulgation of the two ordinances violates no Constitutional provision or state statute.” An appeal was filed by the banks. On or about March 14, 2013, the banks offered to drop the appeal if the City of Springfield would drop the bond requirement. The cause of the appeal was not with the mediation ordinance; rather, the cause of the appeal is the posting of the bond.

Here, the City of Worcester has implemented the bond requirement but not the mediation ordinance. Take note, the City of Springfield’s bond requirement is $10,000.00 which appears more penal than remedial. The banks were willing to allow the mediation ordinance. It seems obvious that the Springfield City Council is more concerned about the bond money than solving the problem for the homeowners, unlike the City of Worcester.

Our City Council rose to the occasion last night to advise the administration that they will push forward and should. In response, the administration offered to come to the table and look at all options. Unfortunately, this means further delay in the enactment of any ordinance, but the parties appear willing to further the process. Hopefully action will be taken sooner rather than later.

 

Worcester’s second annual Family Housing Information Forum

This is an opportunity for Worcester providers to share and learn about resources available for families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness

Wednesday, September 18

Registration Begins at 9:30 am

Event from 10 am to 3 pm at the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance (CMHA), 6 Institute Road

Coffee and Lunch Provided

To Register:

Register by Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Submit registration form and payment to Miranda Muro at CMHA

mmuro@cmhaonline.org fax: 774-243-3856 6 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609

$10 Registration Fee per person to help cover costs of food & supplies

This event is open to all. Contact Miranda with any questions regarding the registration fee.

Limit of 3 attendees per agency, due to space constraints

Presentation topics from a variety of speakers include:

· Homeless Prevention Resources · Navigating the Emergency Assistance (EA) System ·

· Assisting Non-EA Eligible Families · Utility Arrearage Resources · Fair Housing Law·

· DCF & Housing · Domestic Violence Resources · Veteran Resources · and more!

A mortgage mediation program for Worcester

By Michael Gaffney, candidate for Worcester City Councilor at Large

Mortgage mediation is a process whereby during the foreclosure process, a representative from the bank meets with the homeowner relative to a mortgage workout. Getting two parties to sit down in a neutral environment to discuss the issues often yields positive results. A property lost to foreclosure lowers surrounding property values and seriously disrupts neighborhoods.

On August 19, 2013, per the Telegram and Gazette, the administration of the City of Worcester reported that it would not back an ordinance to establish a mediation program on property entering into foreclosure.
The reasons given for not implementing such a program were costs, logistics and legality:

As to costs, there are far too many volunteer organization as well as services operating under a block grant that provide free services to our courts and other programs. There are also numerous low cost providers. Cost is simply not a viable argument.
Logistically, the City of Worcester already requires a $5,000.00 bond for potential costs upon the filing of a foreclosure; therefore, someone is already assigned to review the bond and a tracking mechanism is already in place. The time involved in a referral to a mediation program is nominal.

As to the alleged legal issue, in the August 19, 2013 edition of the Telegram and Gazette, the City Solicitor claims that the Springfield ordinance is pending appeal which is mostly accurate. On July 2, 2012, U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor dismissed the lawsuit filed by the banks against Springfield’s mediation ordinance stating “the modest effort made by the city to soften the crisis through the promulgation of the two ordinances violates no Constitutional provision or state statute.” An appeal was filed by the banks. On or about March 14, 2013, the banks offered to drop the appeal if the City of Springfield would drop the bond requirement. The cause of the appeal was not with the mediation ordinance; rather, the cause of the appeal is the posting of the bond.

Here, the City of Worcester has implemented the bond requirement but not the mediation ordinance. Take note, the City of Springfield’s bond requirement is $10,000.00 which appears more penal than remedial. The banks were willing to allow the mediation ordinance. It seems obvious that the Springfield City Council is more concerned about the bond money than solving the problem for the homeowners, unlike the City of Worcester.

Our City Council rose to the occasion last night to advise the administration that they will push forward and should. In response, the administration offered to come to the table and look at all options. Unfortunately, this means further delay in the enactment of any ordinance, but the parties appear willing to further the process. Hopefully action will be taken sooner rather than later.

The Main South CDC has done wonders for Worcester inner-city families!

City officials like Mike O’Brien and Tim McGourthy have to respect our community development corporations’ good work. The CDCs have given working city folks safe, beautiful, affordable homes/apts in which to raise their kids, live their lives. FOR YEARS! I love the homes and apartments the Main South CDC rehabs and builds! Like the one pictured below! It looks as colorful as a gumdrop in an Easter basket! New England homes and three deckers  are always painted in such conservative colors! Ick! Tres depressing! But all the Main South CDC homes make me smile when I drive by them. They remind me of the little houses in Hartford that the Latinos would live in – small but pink, yellow or blue – sometimes with blue astroturf for a little front “lawn.” Add a pitbull and or chihuahua and … voila! Casa sweet casa! – Rosalie Tirella

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open letter to Governor Deval Patrick

July 30, 2012

Governor Deval Patrick
Massachusetts State House
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Governor Patrick,

On behalf of thousands of Massachusetts families whose lives are impacted by foreclosure – and all Bay State residents and consumers harmed by the ongoing economic damage of this mortgage crisis – we ask that you take action to eliminate harmful measures included in the pending foreclosure abatement legislation, House Bill 4323.

As an attorney who cut his teeth advocating on behalf of homeowners in the last, comparatively small, foreclosure crisis, you know firsthand the life-wrecking stress experienced by families facing foreclosure and eviction. And as an elected leader, you have dealt directly with the devastating impact the mortgage crisis has had on communities throughout the Commonwealth.

With this experience in mind, we ask that you not sign this legislation as-is, but that you step in to amend and address damaging provisions included within. Among the actions necessary to restore the integrity of this bill:

Remove language that will otherwise extinguish Massachusetts homeowners’ rights to sue to get their homes back in the case of certain illegal foreclosures.

Correct the arduous and unworkable negotiation process proposed for subprime loan modifications – a process that has consistently failed lenders and borrowers across the country for years.

Ensure Bay State families are able to remain in their homes by renting post-foreclosure properties now.

Addressing language that harms victims of illegal or fraudulent foreclosure is of the utmost importance. First, a new section, inserted at the last minute without notice, transforms this legislation into an anti-homeowner bill and overturns a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision that affirmed a legal protection that has existed for over a century. This new language irrevocably extinguishes the right of all homeowners to sue to get their homes back in cases where lenders have sold properties to third parties – despite not having the legally required promissory note. In Brockton, Springfield, Worcester, and many other communities hardest-hit by the foreclosure crisis, on-the-ground experience shows real estate investors are the overwhelming majority of third party purchasers – not everyday citizens looking for a place to live and raise a family. Few potential homeowners qualify to meet today’s tight lending rules and banks consistently prefer the cash offers of investor-developers. Should this language remain intact, thousands of present homeowners’ rights will be extinguished the day of the auction if a third party purchase occurs at foreclosure.

Second, to the credit of its authors, this legislation would require lenders holding legally unfair, predatory loans to test if they lose more money foreclosing on a homeowner than by offering that family a truly affordable modification. Unfortunately, this protection was coupled with an unworkable process to negotiate and receive that loan modification – one that is by mail only, includes unrealistic deadlines, and offers no concrete notification to the borrower of their opportunities or potential loss ofprotections in this process.

For example, a bank conducts a now-mandated cost analysis; it shows they lose more money by foreclosing than renegotiating loan terms, and the lender must contact the homeowner about a loan modification. The homeowner, however, has only 30 days to prepare all necessary application documents and have them accepted by the bank. Lenders rarely accept an application as complete on the first try; families nationwide submit documents an average of six times to be deemed complete. In short, these processes and deadlines will block most homeowners from accessing the very protections this bill attempts to create.

Third, this bill also creates a task force to draft a measure to grant homeowners the right to rent their homes post-foreclosure during the bank’s ownership, but requires no real action from that committee until 2013. Permitting homeowners to pay fair market rent will dramatically reduce the rising number of empty, foreclosed properties that drive down property values in communities across the Commonwealth – and shrink the number of homeless families as well. You first spoke in support of this law in spring 2007, at the beginning of the crisis, and each year since, some 8,000 more homeowner households have been needlessly evicted. The task force needs to complete its work by the end of 2012, not 2013.

Even the positive changes in the bill will offer protection to an ever-dwindling number of Massachusetts families. The new loss analysis, for instance, covers only subprime loans. Federal Reserve figures show less than 30% of the Commonwealth’s foreclosures were of subprime loans in 2009, and that number has been dropping since. At best, an estimated 500 families would benefit from the new protection each year, compared to thousands who will loose a key right to regain their home due to the last-minute language additions mentioned above.

Governor Patrick, we ask that you prioritize immediate action to save the key right of all Massachusetts homeowners, going forward, to regain their homes. In addition, we hope that you will correct the loan modification process to work for those facing foreclosure due to unfair, subprime loans – and that you call for an end-of-year deadline for writing right-to-rent legislation that will help keep Bay State families in their homes.

Sincerely,

Nadine Cohen
Consumer Rights Unit, Greater Boston Legal Services

Lee Goldstein,
Chair of Massachusetts Foreclosure Task Force, National Lawyers Guild

Eloise Lawrence
Harvard Legal Aid Bureau

Grace Ross
Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending

A fine time to adopt a feline!

By Paula Moore

Every morning, just before the alarm goes off, my cat Romeo jumps into bed with me and kisses my face until I get up. When I sit down to read a book, my old lady cat, Chloe, snuggles up on my lap, purring contentedly. My other cat, Mochi, doesn’t let me go to sleep at night until we’ve played a rousing game of “catch the Cat Charmer.”

If you’re looking for a companion who can double as an alarm clock, lap warmer and exercise buddy, then this June, “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month, would be the perfect time to adopt a cat. Better yet, adopt two.

Personally, I think that every month should be “Adopt a Shelter Animal” Month. But it’s no coincidence that “Adopt a Shelter Cat” Month coincides with “kitten season,” the dreaded time of year when unwanted kittens and mama cats pour into animal shelters.

With 6 to 8 million animals entering U.S. shelters every year, most are constantly filled to capacity. Open-admission shelters—those that never turn animals away—have no choice but to euthanize many healthy, friendly cats (and dogs) in order to accommodate the flood of baby animals born during the spring and summer months.

Sadly, this tragic situation is not likely to change any time soon. For years, animal shelters and rescue groups have encouraged, urged and begged animal guardians to spay or neuter in order to help stop the animal homelessness crisis at its source. They have tried heartbreaking appeals to help people realize that buying animals from backyard breeders or pet stores means stealing desperately needed homes from animals in shelters—who will likely pay with their lives.

Until people do these two simple things—sterilize their animal companions and adopt animals rather than buying them—shelters will be forced to euthanize millions of animals every single year because there just aren’t enough homes for them all.

I can think of no good reason not to adopt. Pre-loved cats know the ropes. They are almost always litterbox-trained, pros at sharpening their claws on a scratching post instead of on your curtains and familiar with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of living with humans.

Shelters screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors, and most have trained adoption counselors available to help you find the right fit for your family. Animals in shelters and rescue groups are examined by a veterinarian when they arrive, and for a nominal fee—hundreds less than what breeders typically charge—they leave spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.

People who have their hearts set on a specific breed of cat can still rescue an animal in need of a loving home. Having a pedigree doesn’t protect animals from being tossed out like an old TV set when they’re no longer wanted. Both of my male cats are Siamese, and both were dumped on the streets when their previous owners got tired of them.

I can’t imagine ever tiring of my cats’ company. Each is unique—Mochi is moody and headstrong, while Romeo is a real sweetheart and Chloe is an opinionated old lady—but they are all loving, affectionate companions. If you’re ready to commit, please open your heart and home to a cat waiting in a shelter. You’ll save a life—and make a friend for life.

Protesters march on big banks to expose “underwater” mortgage crisis

Demonstrators call on financial giants to save drowning homeowners by reducing principal.

 

BOSTON – Sporting goggles, snorkels, flippers and life preservers, more than 150 demonstrators marched on the big banks recently to call attention to the scourge of underwater mortgages. Foreclosure victims lead by City Life and New England’s Bank Tenant Associations were joined by allies from MASSUNITING and the Occupy movement in calling on financial institutions to take meaningful steps to address the mortgage crisis.  Their primary demand of JP Morgan Chase, Fannie Mae, Bank of America and other big banks: reduce the principal owed on underwater homes.

Check out clips from the “underwater” march here: http://bit.ly/zk40Bg

“Millions of homes are underwater due to the greed of Bank of America, Fannie Mae, JP Morgan Chase and the rest of the big banks,” said Melonie Griffiths, an organizer with City Life/Vida Urbana. “They’re directly responsible for the mortgage crisis, and it’s about time they did something to clean up their wreckage and help drowning homeowners.”

More than 25% of mortgages are underwater nationwide – meaning the amount owed on the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. This growing problem has become one of the driving factors behind the ongoing mortgage crisis, leading many analysts to agree that comprehensive principal reduction is the only plausible path to reversing course. Yet, most major financial institutions have flatly refused to take the necessary steps to address the crisis.

“The big banks took trillions in taxpayer bailouts, but refuse to take even the simplest steps to get our economy back on track,” said Antonio Ennis, a Dorchester resident fighting foreclosure from Bank of America. “That’s why we’re marching today – we kept the big banks afloat, now it’s time for them to throw us a lifeline.”

President Obama has called on financial institutions to take action on principal reduction – even going as far as to provide incentives to participating firms. But the administration has yet to forward hard requirements, and the major banks have been largely unwilling to comply.