Today was the Congressional Oversight Panel Hearing on TARP Foreclosure Mitigation Programs. The full video and testimony and statements of all speakers are here.
This part of Damon Silvers’ opening statement resonated:
“As I have said at every hearing on this subject, foreclosing on a family’s home is not a mere financial transaction. It marks a profound financial loss and often devastating emotional defeat for the homeowner, psychological trauma and social dislocation for the homeowners’ children, falling property values and destabilized communities for the homeowners’ neighbors. Mass foreclosures are a sure sign of a failing economy and a society that has been unable to provide basic economic security to its citizens. Mass foreclosures should no more be encouraged by our government than should contagious diseases or catastrophic floods.”
This feels truer to human experience than the mantra that a Freddie Mac attorney kept hammering to the jury in a recent forcible detainer action, “It’s just a house.” Well, it’s just another house to Freddie Mac (not even touching on the fact that Freddie Mac probably did not even have a valid right to possession anyway). To this family, it was their home where they raised their children and lived in from 1992 to the present.
Silvers further stated:
“These reasons alone would justify aggressive government action to prevent foreclosures in the wake of the housing bubble and the epidemic of exploitative lending practices by our financial institutions. But the social impact of foreclosures is not by any means the full story of the harm done to our country by the foreclosure epidemic. Mass foreclosures drive down real estate prices—shrinking the wealth of American households, weakening consumer confidence and the solvency of our financial system.”
And as we have tried to explain to the court in case after case,
“And now we have learned that the foreclosure process itself, and our system of property law itself is cracking under the strain of the bubble and the bust. There appears to be strong evidence that servicer banks have improperly executed and filed with the courts a large number of affidavits in the pursuit of foreclosures. Worse yet, since the affidavit revelations, evidence has mounted that there are substantive problems with the liens that support significant numbers of securitized mortgages.”