Business & Economy

Foreclosure victims speak up at public hearing

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California has the third highest foreclosure rate in the country. Some state lawmakers don’t believe that federal and state programs designed to avert foreclosures are effective enough. KPCC’s Brian Watt says they sponsored a hearing at Los Angeles City Hall to determine what more the state can do.

Assemblyman Pedro Nava of Santa Barbara asked everyone present to imagine themselves in the shoes of the 400,000 Californians who’ve faced foreclosure this year.

"Taking photographs off the mantle, pictures of family members, wrapping them in bubble wrap, loading them in the back of a station wagon, to try to find a place to start all over again. We don’t have to have that experience in California."

Nava chairs the Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee. With Assembly Speaker Karen Bass he’s introduced a bill that would create a state-monitored mediation program. It would help homeowners and lenders modify home loans and prevent foreclosure.

Nava invited panels of housing experts, counselors, bankers, and citizens to the hearing. About half the people who showed up were homeowners, like Deborah Beard of Watts, who’d fallen behind on their mortgages.

"Going into foreclosure, we asked for modification. As we waited, to our surprise, what we got was a knock on the door and somebody told us that our home had been sold and that we had to move after we’d been there for 23 years."

Beard said she hoped the new legislation would require something she and her husband have had trouble pinning down so far: clear, face-to-face communication with their lender.