Causa Justa/RIght to the City member Manuel de Paz is a homeowner in Oakland, CA, in one of the zip codes most affected by predatory lending and foreclosure. He makes his mortgage payment based on a $325,000 home but the house is worth only about $150,000. He is underwater by about 100 percent. He has repeatedly requested a loan modification but Bank of America refuses to respond.
National Domestic Workers Alliance organizer Maria Reyes is a victim of Countrywide’s racist predatory lending practices. Maria is a domestic worker, and had been saving to buy a home for a long time. Countrywide inflated the family’s income on the loan application, and as a result their monthly mortgage payment became more than they could pay. When Bank of America bought out Countrywide, Maria asked for a loan modification but they refused and subsequently foreclosed on Maria and her family. Their original downpayment and five years of investing in their home was gone in an instant.
City Life/Right to the City member Paula Taylor was foreclosed on by Bank of America in 2008. She offered to buy back the property at real value rather than the false value produced by the housing bubble, but Bank of America refused and evicted her. Her property was sold at a price far before her loan, a price she easily could have afforded to pay.
This is why Bank of America is becoming Bank vs. America.
On May 9th, we are gathering together in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the Bank vs. America shareholders meeting, to tell CEO Brian Moynihan that BofA must pay up or break up!
As the second largest bank in the country (after J.P Morgan Chase) and the biggest foreclosure profiteer, Bank of America is a major culprit of not just the housing crisis but also the economic crisis as a whole.
Bank of Americaʼs predatory practices have directly targeted and robbed communities of color, while directly enriching CEO Brian Moynihan and his golfing buddies. BofA is financing war and destruction by investing in mountaintop removal that perpetuates deadly coal mining in the Appalachian regions, and in cluster bombs that have wounded civilians throughout the Middle East. And together with Wells Fargo, BofA has has caused the biggest racial wealth gap in decades by robbing millions of African American and Latino families of their biggest asset and source of financial security – their homes.
What’s more, they’ve been bailed out again and again and they’ve STILL FAILED. Billions of our tax dollars went to bail out BofA, yet they continue with irresponsible and unaccountable behavior including recently quadrupling the pay of CEO Brian Moynihan, and demonstrating renewed redlining practices in communities of color hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.
So while Bank of America reigns over Wall Street South in Charlotte, wining and
dining their shareholders this week, working people and people of color from across the country will be mobilizing to say: enough is enough! WE WON’T LET BofA CONTINUE TO PROFIT FROM THE CRISIS THEY HAVE CAUSED!
Bank vs. America Racial Justice FAQ:
- Responsible for the biggest racial wealth gap in decades. As the biggest foreclosure profiter in the nation (As of June 2010, Bank of America had $88 billion worth of foreclosed homes in its servicing portfolio—more than any other mortgage servicer in the country) BofA is one of the prime culprits of robbing black and Latino families — for many of whom homes are their primary assets — of generations of wealth.
- Guilty of discriminatory Lending Practices. From 2006 through 2010, Bank of America (and mortgage lenders it has since acquired) was twice as likely to put Latino borrowers into higher-cost, subprime loans than white borrowers, and 147% more likely to do the same to African-American borrowers.
- Guilty of exploiting immigrants. Former employees have accused Bank of America of exploiting Latino customers who were recruited at embassies and community events. Employees were “coached” to push multiple products on unwitting customers who lacked knowledge of their hidden costs.#
- Guilty of Predatory Lending. Countrywide Financial, which Bank of America now owns, was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department, and multiple state attorney general offices in 2008 for predatory lending and securities fraud. Bank of America is still dealing with Countrywide’s legal problems, which included numerous lawsuits, some of which have settled, that were brought against the company for its allegedly abusive lending and financial practices.# In December 2011, Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle Department of Justice charges of discriminatory lending. It is the largest discrimination settlement to date.#
- Guilty of Renewed Redlining. While Bank of America’s mortgage lending to white borrowers dropped 31% between 2007 and 2009, it dropped 62% for African-American borrowers and 66% for Latinos.#
- Exploiting Military Members. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against a Bank of America subsidiary for wrongfully foreclosing on approximately 160 military service members. According to the DOJ, the bank was “knowingly and repeatedly violating the Service members Civil Relief Act.” Bank of America paid $20 million to settle the charges.#
- Foreclosure Leader. As of June 2010, Bank of America had $88 billion worth of foreclosed homes in its servicing portfolio—more than any other mortgage servicer in the country. The bank also owned $18.7 billion worth of foreclosed homes, the second highest in the nation.#
- Foreclosure Fraud. Bank of America is at the heart of the foreclosure fraud scandal. An executive at the bank admitted to robo-signing up to 8,000 foreclosure documents per month without reviewing the information in each file to ensure that the bank had a legal right to proceed with foreclosure.# There have been numerous reports of Bank of America foreclosing on the wrong home,# and several state courts have dismissed or delayed foreclosure actions by the bank.# Bank of America, along with four other large mortgage servicers, recently agreed to a $26 billion settlement with 49 state attorney generals and federal officials for their role in these practices.#
- Subprime Lending. Bank of America had a hand in the worst of the subprime lending excesses, providing financing to four of the five largest subprime lenders during the years prior to the crash. Together, these firms issued over $320 billion in subprime loans from 2005 through 2007.# Furthermore, Bank of America now owns Countrywide Financial, which was the largest subprime lender during the boom years.
- Subprime Securitization. Following the Countrywide acquisition, BofA became the largest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in the country.# The bank continued to package subprime MBS in the run up to the financial crash.# This allowed subprime lenders to bundle up their loans and sell them to investors without worrying about the borrowers’ ability to repay. It encouraged other banks to keep making subprime loans, and made it possible for the subprime crisis to grow. Bank of America’s MBS business is now the subject of an $8.5 billion legal settlement that is being challenged by multiple Attorneys General for being too easy on the bank.#
- Loan modifications. Bank of American has one of the lowest conversion rates of any of the major servicers for putting homeowners with trial loan modifications into permanent ones under the Obama Administration’s Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP).# Furthermore, the bank failed to meet the program’s benchmarks for internal controls for identifying and contacting homeowners and for homeowner evaluation and assistance.# A recently unsealed whistleblower complaint alleges that BofA’s subsidiary Countrywide Financial received financial benefits by participating in HAMP while at the same time preventing homeowners from receiving HAMP-based mortgage modifications to avoid incurring millions in losses.# Homeowners in California, Missouri, and Ohio have filed lawsuits against Bank of America for refusing to offer permanent loan modifications under HAMP.#