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4 The Hampton Roads Messenger Editorial Show Me the Money

am not suggesting that what happened to Greece’s economy could happen here. It just appears to me that legislators in this country do not appear to be making smart decisions when it comes to securing our economic future.

Do we really know what it means to

raise limit on the amount of money the country can borrow at this time? It is an interesting concept for anyone to ask for a higher credit limit because they cannot pay the debt they already have. Tell that to your lender and see what happens.

Our President, who promised to BY ANGELA JONES It is that time of year again; no, not

the time of year when the heat begins to subside or the time of year when numerous hurricanes loom off the east coast of the United States. Well, it is the time of year for those things; however, I am referring to the time of year when I, once again, start preaching about how desperately we need to start saving our money.

If we learned anything from the

debate about raising the debt ceiling, we should have learned that congress is not interested in helping the little guy, us; therefore, we have to help ourselves. We have to save as much of our income as we can and make sure our funds are in a safe place while we ride out this storm of financial uncertainty.

Although the bill to raise the debt

ceiling passed, and that was supposed to be good for our economy, the Dow Jones Stock Exchange went haywire shortly thereafter. The United States’ economy seems to be in a fragile state. I

repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, has not done so. Those additional funds could assist in lowering the deficit. Instead, the deficit will increase and the wealthy will continue to enjoy tax breaks while many of the less fortunate continue to be jobless.

Look around when you are at stores

and restaurants. Look at who is shopping and spending their cash. It’s not the wealthy. They have began tightening their belts and saving their money. They are also purchasing gold and removing their funds from financial institutions in this country and they are the only people making any real money these days. When a home goes through the foreclosure process, the wealthy have the cash to purchase it where as the average individual will have difficulty obtaining a loan to purchase a home even if it is a great deal.

Do the research. If you look hard

enough you will find a safe place to put your hard earned money until this financial crisis is over. Spend wisely and save as much of your income as possible. That is what the wealthy are doing and there is no reason we cannot keep up with the Joneses when it comes to securing our financial future.

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Volume 5 Number 11 Foreclosures FROM PAGE 1

they’re coming back with a vengeance: In March, almost 30,000 notices of intent to foreclose were filed, more than twice as many than in any month since the state began keeping records in 2008, according to an analysis of state records by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

For communities of color around

the country, a “lagging collapse” may be ahead, said Alan Mallach, a nationally known housing expert who has done extensive on-the-ground research into the foreclosure crisis. Prince George’s county is a case in point. The nation’s wealthiest majority-black county, it has been devastated by the foreclosure crisis. Heavily targeted by subprime lenders in the boom years, the county is now staggering under the weight of abandoned homes and plummeting prices. The county received more than 7,100 notices of intent to foreclose in March.

“I think it’s grim. And it’s going to

be grim for a while. I’m not sure we’re anywhere near the aftermath yet. We’re still in the middle of the storm,” said Mallach.

A year after the Maryland law was

passed, fewer than 1,000 borrowers had applied for mediation, and just 56 borrowers had received a loan modification as of the end of May, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Another 159 cases ended with a

so-called contingent resolution, meaning that the borrowers were promised a modification pending additional paperwork. In total, 829 mediation cases have been closed since the law took effect.

Despite the low participation rates,

mediation sessions have been good for borrowers, said Carol Gilbert, assistant secretary for neighborhood stabilization at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

“Whether or not they prevent

foreclosure, they do get to closure, by understanding what their lender’s position is and understanding what their options are, or are not,” she said.

What the mediation program has

accomplished is “getting both sides of the (lending) shop to communicate,” Gilbert said. “The foreclosure side of the shop that’s working in turbo drive is very effective, and the modification side is not.”

“We were seeing so many

consumers fall through the cracks who were midstream in their modification process and next week they were getting foreclosed upon,” she said.

Established in 2006 Except that’s still happening.

August 2011 Antoinette Barber, a homeowner

in Baltimore, requested a mediation session, using the information provided by her lender, HSBC Bank. But paperwork problems plagued her case from the start, including that HSBC listed her home as abandoned, said her attorney, Legal Aid lawyer Gretchen Reimert.

Trouble started when the envelope

that foreclosure attorneys representing HSBC gave to Barber to send in her mediation request was labeled with an incomplete address. The paperwork never arrived at its destination, so no mediation session was scheduled. Barber received a second notification of her mediation rights and submitted a second request on March 9.

But HSBC’s attorneys had already

scheduled a foreclosure sale for March 11. And although the court scheduled a mediation session for April 13, and notified the foreclosure attorneys about it, the foreclosure firm didn’t cancel the sale. Barber’s house was sold two weeks later. Barber, a single mom with two children, arrived at the April mediation session in tears.

HSBC’s servicer said that Barber’s

file had been transferred to another department and couldn’t be found. HSBC’s foreclosure attorney said she wouldn’t agree to anything that day, unless Barber would allow the foreclosure sale to go through. Barber refused, and Reimert has filed a motion to rescind the sale and stop the foreclosure.

“Mediation is a joke,” Barber said.

“I was really counting on it helping me. But they did nothing for me. It was a waste of time.”

‘HSBC has a strong commitment

to home preservation and regards foreclosure as a last resort. We are looking into the matter,” said Neil Brazil, vice president for public affairs at HSBC. He said the company had no further comment, citing pending litigation.

Borrowers and counselors around

the country have complained that the modification process breaks down because the people at the servicer call centers don’t have the power to change the terms or balance on a loan.

The mediation problems in

Maryland are yet another indication that so far, government efforts aren’t putting a dent in the foreclosure problem. Mallach isn’t optimistic they will any time soon.

“This is the disgrace of the whole

thing,” Mallach said. “Basically, the lenders who made these loans are paying huge amounts of money to the investors that they defrauded. But the problem for these communities is that basically the lenders got away with murder, and they are continuing to get away with murder.”

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