United States of Foreclosures: How 'Bankquakes' Shake People from Their Homes

The financial crisis started
as a housing bubble with the financial industry convinced that home
values never fall. How wrong they were even as they leveraged and securitized
their investments to create a global crisis.

Now, brace yourself because
not only is it not over, but in some respects it's just begun.
There will be more foreclosures this year than last and as a result
more suffering for American families.

The financial crisis started
as a housing bubble with the financial industry convinced that home
values never fall. How wrong they were even as they leveraged and securitized
their investments to create a global crisis.

Now, brace yourself because
not only is it not over, but in some respects it's just begun.
There will be more foreclosures this year than last and as a result
more suffering for American families.

Ed Harrison who monitors this
industry for a website called Credit Write Downs sees a "second wave
coming"--like a new tsunami in a industry that All of Obama's horses
and all of Obama's Men have not been able to do anything about. The
idea of challenging fraud and deception with a debt relief plan goes
a bit too far for these self-styled centrists. Writes Harrison:

When the crisis first developed,
in February of 2007, it was subprime where the worries were, with the
lion's share of writedowns coming from mark-to-market losses in the
securitisation market. However, subprime was a relatively small part
of the overall market, making up 14% of loans outstanding at that time.
Alt-A loans were 27% and prime loans were 57% respectively of loans
outstanding according
to a Banc of America Securities report

As the 2004-2007 co-horts of
Alt-A option ARM mortgages have started to reset and prime borrowers
have come under stress, we have started to see defaults in markets which
are an order of magnitude larger than subprime.

I love phrases like "order
of magnitude" because they make problems seem too big to do anything
about. As we aggregate the losses we lose sight of the individuals whose
lives are at risk even as financial websites carry more and more articles
about how to profit from foreclosures.

Today, it's not just that
prime loans are about to go belly up but more and more tenants living
in private homes are at risk-with no one looking out for them because
they don't own anything and so are considered disposable.

Mounting foreclosures is an
issue I have been writing and railing about. Protests against them are
featured in my forthcoming film Plunder:
The Crime Of Our Time

There is a macro dimension to this
crisis abut also a far more personal micro one.

Here's a story I was told
about a middle class woman on Long Island, who happens to be Haitian.
I am sure its not the worst case--and certainly not the best outcome.
Read it and weep-but as you do remember this bell may toll for more
of us.

At the same
time, as a reporter, I find myself personally exposed to people experiencing
these problems. One is a close friend of a close friend who found herself
on the street last week.

I offered to
help her write an op-ed about her situation based on what she told me.
She really liked it, but then had second thoughts about having
it appear under her name. It is intimidating if you are not used to
challenging powerful institutions even after you have been terribly
mistreated. There is always a hope that some deal might save you, or
get your home back. I have to respect her right to anonymity, but I
can vouch for the accuracy of this sad account implicating a predatory
bank and their servicer, the County Sheriff, and a moving company that
makes money off of people's misery.

Here is the


Almost two
months ago, the country I was born in suffered a natural calamity. Hundreds
of thousands died in the Haitian earthquake, members of my own family
among them. Our family home was destroyed. It was heartbreaking and
traumatizing. I am still grieving. I was happy to know that so many
people who live here on the Island responded with an outpouring of donations
and concern. No homeowner would ever want to share the same experience
of sudden forced homelessness.

Less than
a week ago, I stood outside a home that I have lived in for 14 years
and watched the Nassau County Sheriff's office and a team of movers
(from Network Moving & Trucking) that they hired, evict me, crudely
packing up all my possessions, throwing precious belongings in boxes
and somehow also stealing my grand daughter's laptop in the process
before physically pushing her into the street.

My family
had just been dispossessed in Haiti, and now I was having a similar
(but far less deadly) experience in Nassau County. Only this calamity
was not due to a natural disaster, but to a well-proven chain of fraud
and abuse by banks. The FBI has confirmed we have been living through
a "fraud epidemic" since 2004.

No big name
musicians are raising money for the victims of this disaster. So far,
the government agencies that have promised to curb an out of control
foreclosure crisis have been ineffectual. The big banks have paid lip
service to helping their customers, but, as study
after study documented, they make more money throwing people out of
their homes and reselling them than modifying mortgages so residents
can stay where they are. They are in the game for profits, not to help

In my case,
I persistently reached out to the bank with emails and calls to try
to negotiate. No one would take my calls or respond. There was no there
there. I have been experiencing disdain and insensitivity at every turn.

I reached
out to legal agencies which Nassau County itself advises people facing
eviction to go to, What happened? They told me there was nothing
they could do.

In my case,
I wanted to buy the house I lived in with my grandchild - I am nearly
65 - but the mortgage broker and the REMAC realty agency and the courts
were less than helpful. No one would assist me. The Administration has
stopped deportation orders for Haitians convicted of crimes, but seems
uninterested in helping law abiding people like myself.

Was it my
accent, my Haitian background? I am an American citizen and a former
civil servant with a long history of public service and employment.
Ethnicity may be a factor but they treat people of all races this way-with

the problem for me is that I wasn't even the homeowner but a tenant
whose landlord had disappeared leaving the home with all sorts of major
structural problems and unpaid bills. I tried reaching him and the bank
for months on end with no success.

The bank
in this case was HSBC, one of the most notorious subprime lenders which
has written off billions of dollars because of its irresponsible lending
policies, and been subject to investigations and reprimand. Their servicer
is part of the scheme. It is no wonder that the public calls these people
banksters. That is who they are.

I went to
Court and had my appeal to stay the eviction denied without any reasons
given. The Sheriff told me the eviction could be stopped if I applied
for bankruptcy. I did so, and when I tried to call him with the file
number, as instructed, before his office carried out the eviction, no
one would take my call. His secretary told he would not talk to me.
A bankruptcy filing should have stopped the eviction. It didn't. These
are the bureaucratic games they play with people's lives.

And then
to add insult to injury, the moving company had the nerve to yell at
me for trying to stop my own eviction claiming that I was trying to
cheat them out a $2000 fee for doing the job during which my grandchild
was pushed physically and "lost" her computer.

I am appealing
to my Nassau neighbors to express concern about this outrage like they
did for the victims of the quake.

Please help
me call for an investigation and reversal of this rushed eviction without
a fair hearing or recourse. Will someone look into the actions by the
Sheriff of Nassau County who did the bank's bidding, and Judge Scott
Fairgreive who callously signed the order without an ounce of compassion.

I am now,
as a senior citizen homeless and personally at risk. I fainted on the
day of the eviction and had to be hospitalized. I don't know what
will happen to me, and if something does, what will happen to my grandchild?
For me, this calamity was like an earthquake destroying my life. Call
it a 'bank-quake' if you will. I need help now.

Will someone stand up for
me as I have for years for people all over the world?

If you live on Long Island
and can help, write to me and I will pass on your message. Please
circulate this appeal. Write dissector@mediachanel.org

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