Tour of Blighted Foreclosed Properties

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

See pictures of the Tour of Blighted Foreclosed Properties here and here

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 3.28.32 PM See the Tour Background here in PDF format

See the blight tour itinerary and property details (PDF)

Who is foreclosing Los Angeles?

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Image 2

By Steve Askin

More than 30,000 Los Angeles County homes still face foreclosure threats or have already been seized by banks as their owners struggle to cope with more than $14 billion in mortgage debt, a new analysis by Good Jobs LA reveals. These homes include:

–        9247 foreclosed, bank-owned properties.

–        2209 foreclosed and sold by the mortgage holders.

–        13,444 whose owners have received a notice that the bank intends to auction off the property.

–        8219 whose owners have received foreclosure warning notices.

The recent news reports about an “easing” foreclosure crisis bring no comfort to the more than 30,000 LA County families facing underwater mortgages held by the same banking giants that did so much to crash our economy nearly five years ago.

And the same big banks that led us into crisis continue to top the foreclosure lists, an analysis by Good Jobs LA finds. That “Who’s Who” of big banks is led by Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America. Including banks they gobbled up during the crisis, these three giants account for at least 30% of LA County foreclosure filings, according to data obtained from a leading real estate market tracking service, ForeclosureRadar.com.

–        Wells Fargo: 4576 foreclosure-related filings covering a reported $1.82 billion in mortgage debt.

–        JP Morgan Chase: 3855 filings covering $1.78 billion in mortgage debt.

–        Bank of America: 1357 filings covering $507 million in mortgage debt.

2012 Total Foreclosure Filings and Mortgage Debt by Bank, Including Acquired Institutions

BANK OF AMERICA

1352

$507,156,996

BANK OF AMERICA

1248

$448,354,830

COUNTRYWIDE (AMERICA’S WHOLESALE LENDER)

55

$30,149,218

FIRST FRANKLIN

22

$10,135,250

MERRILL LYNCH

27

$18,517,698

JP MORGAN CHASE

3855

$1,781,065,212

BANK ONE NA

1

$192,000

BEAR STEARNS

71

$33,484,690

EMC MTG

212

$95,356,975

JP MORGAN CHASE

2360

$1,000,504,101

LONG BEACH MTG

80

$31,527,538

WASHINGTON MUTUAL

1131

$619,999,908

WELLS FARGO

4576

$1,824,389,634

AMERICA’S SERVICING CO

523

$219,194,526

WACHOVIA

137

$78,612,205

WELLS FARGO

3916

$1,526,582,903

These numbers probably understate the contributions of the three banking giants to our county’s foreclosure crisis. The list of 33,119 foreclosure filings on which our numbers are based includes 9182 properties for which no lender was listed. The numbers may also overstate the total number of properties facing foreclosure, because properties which move quickly through the complex foreclosure process may appear more than once. (For example, if the bank sends out a notice in July that the owner has defaulted and then takes possession of the property in December, it will probably be listed at least twice.)

Despite these limitations, the foreclosure data paints a devastating picture of the crisis facing LA County homeowners.

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Update in the Fight Against Blight

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Victory at City Hall But More Work Needed to Hold Banks Accountable for Cleaning Up LA Communities

On November 20th, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to adopt an amendment to the foreclosure registry ordinance removing the exemption of a registration fee of $155 for banks that register their foreclosed properties on a Real Estate industry controlled database, known as MERS. MERS was difficult to use, and made it hard for city staff to determine lenders of record responsible for foreclosed properties. Now, all lenders, beneficiaries or trustees will have to register all foreclosed properties with the LA Housing Department, and pay the annual $155 registration fee. By staff estimates, this may bring an additional one to two thousand more properties into their program, and add fees of $300,000.

A Good Jobs LA representative testified that we welcome the elimination of the MERS exemption as a first small step toward moving banks to clean up hundreds of blighted properties they are still failing to maintain. But we call it a small step because LA still lags way behind many smaller cities when it comes to motivating banks to clean up these properties.

The City Council acted in June to strengthen the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance after Good Jobs LA presented the council a report showing that smaller cities like Chula Vista, Richmond, Riverside and Oakland have each collected millions in fees and fines for registration and blight violations by major banks, much more than L.A.

Since then, we’ve gathered more evidence on the extent of this problem, after the Mayor’s office provided funding for a team of young “blight busters” who surveyed properties all over the city, under supervision from the LA Conservation Corps.

They found 450 blighted properties potentially subject to fines under the Foreclosure Ordinance.  As in an earlier survey, a few big lenders were responsible for almost half the problem properties.  The list is led by Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Fannie Mae, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank and US Bank.  Some of these properties have festered like open sores on our neighborhoods for months.

Good Jobs LA assisted in filing complaints regarding about 50 of the worst properties on this list. As best as we can determine, no fines have yet been imposed on any of the scofflaw banks, neither now nor as a result of previous complaints we filed earlier in the year.

Good Jobs LA has submitted to the city a report including six specific recommendations for strengthening enforcement:

  • Support future citizen “blight brigade” efforts by assisting in training. This is the best way to ensure that complaints generated will identify actionable problems.
  • Make speedy inspection of properties identified by citizen complainants a top priority.
  • Strictly enforce the law, imposing all appropriate fines on all non-compliant owners of vacant foreclosed properties.
  • Use available data to focus proactive enforcement efforts on bank owned properties held by the banks which have been shown to hold the largest inventory of blighted properties.
  • Most important, start enforcing the provisions of law which specify a $1000 a day fine for failure to abate blight violations.
  • Prioritize the “easy” enforcement step of promptly inspecting all bank owned properties for posting of required notices. This may produce substantial revenue and, by encouraging compliance, it will definitely give neighbors the one tool they most need to demand cleanup of properties blighting their neighborhoods.

We estimated last June that the city may have foregone up to $45 million in revenue by failing to impose appropriate penalties on banks that fail to take care of foreclosed properties.  That remains true today.  This will change only when the LA City Council approves in final form – and the city administration implements – all the amendments to the foreclosure registry ordinance approved in June.

Councilman Garcetti spoke today in support of removing the registration fee exemption, saying that this was one of a number of pieces of recent legislation meant to hold banks accountable for how they have devastated our communities. He directed city officials to add our six suggestions into the foreclosure registry enforcement program and have staff report on their outcomes.

We will continue to fight for increased enforcement to make sure banks pay for how they have blighted our communities.

Next steps: 

In the next few months, the LA City Council Community and Economic Development Committee will hear amendments related to the Foreclosure Registry Ordinance enforcement program, which include raising the costs of registration to cover the costs of proactive inspection of foreclosed properties, requiring officials to levy $1,000 a day fines if blight violations are not remedied within the 30 day notice period, compelling banks to make reports on properties every month to Foreclosure Registry Program staff, and requiring a monthly report from responsible city staff to city council about the progress of the program.

Good Jobs LA and our community partners will continue fighting for stronger enforcement to hold banks accountable for cleaning up the mess they made in our communities. LA cannot leave this money on the table, and our communities won’t take living with bank blight.

L.A. sues US Bank over blighted homes

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Image: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

Progress in the fight against blight: The LA City Attorney filed a law suit against US Bank that “accuses the bank of being a slumlord and demands that it clean up properties it foreclosed on.” Similar charges were filed against DeutscheBank last year. This is a good step forward – but we can’t stop here. Good Jobs LA’s “Banks Make Bad Neighbors” campaign found at least five major banks and mortgage lenders with even larger inventories of blighted foreclosed homes in South LA. Let’s hold banks accountable for the mess they’ve made in our communities, enforce LA’s blight ordinance and fine the banks up to $1,000 a day for each foreclosed homes they fail to maintain.

Read the article here.

Good Jobs LA Wins Fight To Make Big Banks “Clean Up Or Pay Up”

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

The LA City Council approved key amendments designed to improve enforcement of the city’s blight ordinance yesterday– a victory for the LA’s working families and the 99%.

After a devastating foreclosure crisis caused by greed and recklessness on Wall Street, thousands of bank-owned, foreclosed homes litter LA neighborhoods.  These homes—often left unsafe and in disrepair — attract crime, drive down local property values and are a blight on LA’s communities.

Two years ago, city leaders passed a blight ordinance allowing LA to collect $1,000 a day from banks that do not maintain their foreclosed homes.  But to date, the city has failed to collect a single dime from banks violating the law—a lost opportunity to hold irresponsible banks accountable and collect money to rebuild our neighborhoods.

“It’s not fair that I pay my taxes but the banks use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share,” Good Jobs LA activist Magdalena Sierra testified to the City Council.  “These banks owe LA millions of dollars for not maintaining the properties they’ve foreclosed on and leaving our communities with the mess.  It’s time for the banks to clean up or pay up!”

On a 14-0 vote, the LA City Council approved every Good Jobs LA recommendation for tougher blight enforcement, including:

  • Increasing foreclosure registration fees to cover the cost of enforcement;
  • Assigning dedicated code enforcement staff to conduct proactive inspections of foreclosed and foreclosing properties;
  • Requiring banks to report monthly on the status of their foreclosed properties;
  • Requiring the city to develop a system for obtaining timely reports on bank Notices of Default.

Council members also expressed strong support for a Good Jobs LA proposal to jumpstart enforcement and put local youth to work by creating a summer “blight brigade” program to inspect bank-owned properties. Councilmember Richard Alarcon (7th district) has already identified funds to pilot the program in his Northeast Valley district.

The vote came one day after south LA residents, determined to hold big banks accountable for cleaning up local communities, delivered trash from a vacant foreclosed home to BNY Mellon, one of LA’s largest holders of foreclosed properties. The protest was organized by Good Jobs LA, SEIU Local 721 and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

For news coverage visit the Media & Reports section.

Banks Make Bad Neighbors

May 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

After a devastating foreclosure crisis caused by greed and recklessness on Wall Street, thousands of bank-owned, foreclosed homes litter LA neighborhoods.  These homes – often left unsafe and in disrepair – attract crime, drive down local property values and are a blight on LA’s communities.

Wall Street banks crashed our economy and drove millions to foreclosure.  Now they’re leaving our communities to clean up the mess.

It’s time for city leaders to enforce LA’s blight ordinance which allows the city to collect $1,000 a day from banks that do not maintain their foreclosed homes.  Let’s make the banks pay for the damage they have done to our communities.

  • Tour of Blighted Foreclosed Properties 2013

  • Los Angeles Times

    "All the filth I saw opened my eyes: to the devastation caused by people addicted to drugs, by banks addicted to profit, and by a city government too weak and ineffective to protect its poorer residents." 

    Read the rest of the article
  • ALMOST 1000 BLIGHTED BANK-OWNED HOMES IN L.A

    If properties were inspected by the City of LA at the time that the bank took possession, each of these properties might have incurred fines of up to $100,000, for a total maximum fine of $45.7 million.
    Read the report here.
  • Marketplace

    "There are 68 documented criminal street gangs in LAPD southeast division. Because of the foreclosure crisis, those gangs and the area's homeless population have a whole lot more housing to choose from."

    Read the rest of the article
  • Daily News

    "Davis' battle illustrates frustrations homeowners around the region have had trying to get foreclosed properties maintained in the absence of owners." 

    Read the rest of the article
  • Flickr Photos

  • United in the Fight Against Blight