BILL HELPS WIDOWED SPOUSES AND CHILDREN KEEP THEIR FAMILY HOMES
Sacramento – (RealEstateRama) — Senate Bill 1150, a bill to protect widows, widowers and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures, passed a key hurdle today when it was voted out of the Senate on a vote that was not without drama. Amidst intense industry lobbying pressure and after appearing to go down to defeat for failing to secure sufficient votes yesterday, the bill secured the needed 21 votes today.
Authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, SB 1150 provides critical protections for widowed spouses and other survivors who assume home ownership responsibilities when the primary mortgage holder passes away. The Survivor Bill of Rights closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide surviving spouses and children important protections against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners.
“Grieving family members who have the financial ability to remain in their homes following a loved one’s death shouldn’t have to face the added stress of a lender’s red tape,” saidSenator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Widowed spouses are being consumed by a labyrinth of processes in an attempt to assume or modify existing home loans after the primary mortgage holder passes away. This has led to preventable foreclosures and worsened the suffering of families already thrown in personal crises.”
The bill now moves to the Assembly and is expected to be heard this month in the Assembly Banking and Finance Committee, chaired by Matt Dababneh of the San Fernando Valley.
SB 1150 is sponsored by the California Alliance of Retired Americans, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, and the California Reinvestment Coalition. Supporters include Attorney General Kamala Harris and over fifty organizations, including the National Council of La Raza, AARP California, Central Valley Realtist Board, California District Attorneys Association,, Courage Campaign, Neighborhood Housing Services of LA County, California Nurses Association, Valley Economic Development Center, SEIU California, CALPIRG,Retired Public Employees Association, and the Fair Housing Council of the San Fernando Valley.
“Homeownership is the primary way that families build wealth in this country, and permitting unnecessary foreclosures is not only unjust and devastating for families, it exacerbates the racial wealth gap experienced by California’s communities and residents of color,” saidMaeve Elise Brown of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA).
“Industry opposition to this bill is noteworthy because these are the same lobbyists who claimed the 2013 Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR) would doom our economy. Instead, HBOR stabalized neighborhoods and families. Similarly, SB 1150 is a reasonable bill to create a level playing field for widows, widowers and other heirs to avoid unnecessary foreclosures. Californians living outside of the Capitol bubble have a hard time understanding how groups like the California Chamber of Commerce or the banking lobby can oppose a bill that will mostly benefit widowed seniors,” said Kevin Stein of California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC).
“Today’s vote signifies that issues still matter, and that people still matter,” said Nan Brasmer of California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). “We sincerely thank the 21 Senators who stood up today for what was right and refused to be misled by the distortions about the bill floating around the Capitol.”
Impacted consumer: Ric Hornor, a widower who testified in support of the bill before the Senate Banking Committee last month, sought a loan modification from JP Morgan Chase after the worsening economy impacted the business owned by him and his wife. After Mrs. Hornor passed away in July of 2011, Chase pulled back on their loan modification offer because his wife refused to sign the contract “posthumously,” and the bank told him that it “would only communicate with the deceased.” The bank later moved to foreclose on Mr. Hornor.
After three years, and with the assistance of attorneys, he secured a loan modification, but one that he reports will cost $100,000 more than the modification offered to his wife at the time that she passed. Other survivors are not so lucky, and have lost their family homes.Legal aid and housing counseling organizations report more than 245 survivors have sought assistance in the last two years alone.
SB 1150 would help prevent more surviving homeowners from having the same experience Mr. Hornor did. It clarifies the responsibilities of a mortgage lender when a borrower dies and passes the home along to a survivor who wishes to assume the home loan. The legislation ensures that heirs receive accurate information about loan assumption and foreclosure prevention programs. It also gives survivors a single point of contact with the lender and the ability to simultaneously apply for loan assumption and modification. As with the Homeowner Bill of Rights, SB1150 guarantees a fair process, not a particular outcome.
For more information about SB 1150, including stories of impacted consumers, visit:www.survivorbillofrights.org