ACCE Releases Report on Wells Fargo's damage to California's communities
Listen to your soul's voice,
it'll tell you what
you should do”
--Displayed on the screen of
a Wells Fargo Bank ATM
I work as a housing advocate in San Francisco, a city whose soul is under attack by those who have sold their souls in exchange for any number of illusions and delusions. During my lunch break a couple weeks ago I was walking down Mission Street towards Van Ness Avenue. The sun was out after hiding behind the clouds for a few days. I approached the offices of Goodwill industries when I saw a young African American man of about 22-23 years of age talking to two attractive young women of color. I was within earshot of the conversation. I heard the words, “We want to help you get a bank account. It's easy. Wells Fargo has a good program that can help you”. The young man was taken in by the beauty of the deal, of Wells Fargo or—at the very least—by the beauty of the two young women who were smartly dressed and speaking the company line in sweet coo's meant to seduce even the most stubborn and hardened of men, or men like the young brother—clad in work overalls and a baseball cap shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun. Then, as if on cue, another young man joined in the exchange, drawn in like a bee to honey and soon the two young men gave the young women the keys to the kingdom, which included their names, phone numbers, driver license numbers, dates of birth and other important data. One of the two young women glanced at her watch on occasion, while acting quite professional. I stood close by, pretending to wait for the #14 Mission bus. Goodbyes were exchanged and the young brothers walked towards the entrance of Goodwill. It was then that my soul's voice made me call out, “Excuse me brothers..did you know that Wells Fargo...?”
Perhaps it was the soul's voices of those young women who told them to try to enlist the young brothers as bank account holders with Wells Fargo in spite of the fact that Wells Fargo is responsible for more foreclosures than any other lender in California. Or perhaps it was the voice of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf echoing the dictum of corporate shareholders whose greed has caused evictions and death to elders, communities of color, families and people with disabilities through its predatory and discriminatory lending practices.
The Allliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), The Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League, released a report on Tuesday March 12th entitled California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo's Foreclosure Pipeline is Damaging Local Communities. ACCE has been at the forefront of the resistance to the foreclosures and illegal taking of homes on the part of the banks. Representatives from ACCE, which include foreclosure resistors from the community, rallied on Tuesday March 12th in front of Wells Fargo headquarters in San Francisco's financial district to launch the report and call for Wells Fargo to halt foreclosures and commit to a principal reduction program. The report cites Wells Fargo as providing less principal reductions than both Chase and Bank of America—two banks that could themselves—be doing more.
The report's findings show the damage that has been inflicted on the state by Wells Fargo and warns that if the bank does not reverse this course, the financial damage it will cause will further cripple the state's economy and increase the financial severity brought upon communities and communities of color.
According to the study, of the 65,466 loans in California's foreclosure pipeline, 20% of them are serviced by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo has nearly 12 thousand distressed loans. If those loans go through foreclosure, California will suffer even more than it already has. Homes will lose 22% of their value for a loss of $1.07 billion. Surrounding neighborhood values will go down for an additional loss of $2.2 billion and the tax revenues lost due to depreciation will amount to $20 million. The report includes maps for 7 big cities, focusing on communities of color. Clusters of homes with distressed loans are located in hard hit communities of color.
San Francisco Supervisor David Campos echoed the concerns and expressed support in a statement: “Our communities and our entire state are still reeling from the housing crisis, and will be for years to come. As the report shows, the numbers of homes still facing foreclosure is enormous. Principal reduction is clearly a critical strategy for saving homes and stabilizing the economy. Wells Fargo and the other major banks should be doing more of it.”
Reccommondations of the Report:
Wells Fargo should commit to a broad principal reduction program: Wells Fargo has the legal authority to offer every homeowner facing hardship a loan modification. The modification should be based on an affordable debt-to-income ratio, achieved through a waterfall that prioritizes principal reduction and interest rate reductions.
Wells Fargo should report data on its principal reduction, short sales and foreclosures by race, income and zip code
Wells Fargo should immediately stop all foreclosures until the first 2 demands are met:
ACCE is pushing Wells Fargo to save homes through compliance with the Attorney's General Settlement and homeowner bill of rights and beyond.
To read the report by ACCE: http://www.calorganize.org/sites/default/files/CA%20in%20Crisis%20-%20Wells%20Fargo%20Report.web_.pdf
To send a letter to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf: http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6267/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=7456