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October 19, 2009

Mortgage Abuse and a Public Option, Of Sorts

NACA Chronicle.jpg

Besides what Frank said, I’ve been marveling at the vibrant, patterned and organized photos of non-profit Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America serving hundreds of distressed home owners en masse this past month in arenas in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

But why does it take a NACA to sit people down and offer them simple mortgage restructuring or foreclosure postponements, procedures that can often be executed in a matter of minutes? The event at the Cow Palace in Daly City, pictured above, drew over 50,000 people. Las Vegas drew 40,000. These blanket events, just like the free mass health care clinics we posted about a few months ago are visual proof that the free-market system is broken with banks and health insurance companies have been revealed as organized to intimidate people and drown them in red tape rather than sit them down and cater to them as we see above.

On the back of the loan volunteers orange t-shirts are a pair of eyes and text warning people to beware of loan sharks. I imagine they are referring to the non-corporate kind, but it’s hard to know anymore. Frankly, I’m getting tired of looking at these images of desperate people en mass being taken care of via a philanthropic “work around.”

NACA Citi.jpg NACA Wells Fargo.jpg

And then, banks should not have to be dragged into this kind of setting via the efforts of non-profit organizations. These latter two images are a travesty, as the banks should be taking care of these customers under their own roofs and under their own accord.

(images 1: Michael Macor / SF Chronicle. Images 2 & 3: Robyn Beck/AFP. caption: Hundreds of financial counselors with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) help homeowners process financial information during the ‘Save The Dream’ event October 16, 2009 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. Thousands of people lined up for the NACA Save the Dream event for assistance with having their mortgages restructured to avoid foreclosure or an auction sale of their home. NACA has held events throughout the U.S. with over 180,000 people seeking help with their home loans. The event runs through October 20 and is expected to draw over 55,000 participants.)

  • Molly

    Maybe there is safety in numbers? People are intimidated by the Big Institutions and so herd together for the illusion of moral support. We really are cattle, aren’t we?

  • clusterbum

    these little lights…

  • pcalvin

    At first glance, before reading the text, this looked like an image of a computer game tournament (rows of monitors and numbers on the tables). But then you see the individuals at the tables, the second glance draws you into the image, they aren’t gamers, they aren’t there for entertainment. I’d like to see it printed big, 30×40.

  • yg

    when the roots of this crisis was seeded:
    A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice concludes the national foreclosure crisis is also “a legal crisis. Many homeowners are losing their homes because they lack the ability to navigate the landscape of our lending laws…and too few people are ever able to obtain qualified legal guidance.”
    JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, the Legal Services Corporation, which is the main organization nationwide that provides civil assistance for low-income people, has seen dramatic cuts in its budgets in recent years, hasn’t it?
    MELANCA CLARK: That’s absolutely right. So, back in ’96, the Newt Gingrich-led Congress—and you’ll recall the Contract with America and all that—there was an assault, in fact, on the Legal Services Corporation, where they actually were trying to eliminate the corporation. Instead, there was a compromise, and their budget was cut by a third.
    But the other important thing that happened is that a series of restrictions were imposed on the use of those federal funds. So, for example, lawyers that are receiving—that are serving the poor that receive federal money cannot use those funds to bring class actions, for example. And you think about this in the lending context, where, you know, you could have a lender or broker that’s engaged in widespread abuse throughout a community, well, these lawyers essentially have one hand tied behind their back. They have to take individual case by individual case, which is obviously completely inefficient and is not the way to get widespread relief.

  • Books Alive

    Thanks for bringing this to our notice, yg.
    The Brennan Center is certainly taking this problem head-on. I wonder why C-Span hasn’t had anyone on to speak about this report or the NACA sessions? Thom Hartmann received a call from a woman who had been helped with her mortgage at the Los Angeles NACA and she urged the listeners to look for one in their state.

  • DennisQ

    The picture of the Cow Palace reminds me of the New Orleans Superdome after Katrina. Both of these edifices were converted from their original purposes to provide services for which they weren’t intended. These conversions were made necessary when government failures led to a collapse.
    There’s a subtle irony here. If the 1964 Republican convention – the one that nominated Goldwater – can be seen as the start of contemporary Government-is-the-enemy conservatism, then we’ve come full circle to the Cow Palace. That’s where the 1964 convention was held. Ronald Reagan, who launched his political career giving speeches for Goldwater, famously said, “Government doesn’t solve problems, government is the problem.”

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