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Protest stops eviction by Bank of America

Published Jun 7, 2009 8:56 PM

A militant demonstration on May 29 outside Bank of America in downtown Detroit stopped the scheduled June 1 eviction of Michelle Hart and her elderly mother. Countrywide Home Loans, which is owned by Bank of America, refused to modify Hart’s subprime, adjustable rate mortgage as required by federal law. The demonstration, as well as phone calls from around the country to BOA president Kenneth Lewis at the bank’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., forced the lender to adjourn the eviction.

Vanessa Fluker
WW photo: Alan Pollock

Hart’s attorney, Vanessa G. Fluker, told Workers World: “She tried since January 2008, for almost a year and a half, to get a loan modification from Countrywide. By the time the lender got around to looking at the papers, they said it was ‘too late’ to modify because the sheriff’s sale already took place. In reality a simple affidavit of expungement would have allowed them to modify her loan.”

Like millions of homeowners, Hart fell behind on her mortgage when the interest rate adjusted upward while she was experiencing a job loss. According to Fluker, Hart was able to get work through a temp agency, but Countrywide told her that the income from those jobs “didn’t count” for purposes of loan modification.

Countrywide and BOA are required under federal contract to do loan modifications. But they still refuse to help many homeowners and instead move forward on foreclosures and evictions. They would rather force families onto the streets than work out terms that would allow the bank to receive payment and the borrowers to save their home.

“Both Countrywide and Bank of America have received billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts,” said Fluker. “On top of that, the federal government actually pays banks to do what they are required to do under laws like the Making Home Affordable Program: work with lenders to modify mortgages so that people can keep their homes. Anyone can go online to www.financialstability.gov/docs/agreements and read the contracts. You’ll see that Countrywide receives $1,864,000,000 and Bank of America gets $798,900,000 to modify loans.”

Countrywide told Fluker on May 29 that the eviction of Hart and her mother, who suffers from pancreatic cancer, was “adjourned while they review the file.” In the meantime, no promise to modify Hart’s loan has been forthcoming and the eviction is still pending.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, which organized the May 29 demonstration on less than two days’ notice, urges Hart’s supporters to keep up the pressure on Countrywide and Bank of America. Call Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis at 704-386-5687 and tell him to modify Michelle Hart’s loan. Her home is located at 27685 Sutherland, Southfield, Mich.; loan no. 138009372.