Foreclosure fighters in MN look to change the law to protect struggling homeownersBecky Dernbach on January 24, 2013
Occupy Homes MN and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change were front and center at the State Capitol in St. Paul last week as the "Minnesota Homeowner Bill of Rights" was introduced to the housing committee. Modeled after similar legislation that passed in California last year, the bill aims to end the most egregious of foreclosure abuses. Powerful testimony began inside the press conference room as foreclosure fighter and dual-tracking victim, Rose McGee shared her support of this bill, "I want to see this particular bill passed so that people who don't even know yet that they're going to have to deal with something like this, won't have to deal with something like this. People who are poor, people who are renting, people who are being kicked out on the street because their particular dwelling is being foreclosed...this is not just my fight, this is a fight for people of all classes. This is something that is about humanity."
The committee heard from several community members including a powerful statement from Rabbi Michael Adam Latz directly addressing legislators. "You have the power to stop such unnecessary suffering, to liberate our neighbors from the shackles of the foreclosure crisis and uncertainty, desperation and financial ruin. You can end this immoral and outrageous behavior of dual tracking by proclaiming what it is: an illegal depraved toxic scam destroying the soul of the Minnesota we love!"
The bill as it currently exists would:
- Implement a mandatory foreclosure mediation program;
- Ban dual tracking, or, the practice of negotiating with a homeowner and foreclosing on them at the same time;
- Require that banks assign homeowners a single point of contact;
- Allow homeowners to sue their bank following a dual tracking loss;
- And provide special protections for veterans facing foreclosure.
Occupy Homes MN and NOC agree that this current draft of the bill is a great start but believe the bill does not go far enough to protect all Minnesotans. Jillia Pessenda Bovino, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN, said, "We understand that the foreclosure crisis goes beyond the scope of individual homeowners. We see it on the ground everyday. While we were excited by last week's great work at the Capitol, we will continue to fight for legislation that protects all Minnesotans including renters, children, veterans, farmers and those experiencing homelessness."