Dear friends and allies,
I am proud to report on a thrilling day that ACORN members had yesterday with our national day of action against foreclosures. ACORN protested four mortgage companies that have refused to sign on to President Obama’s foreclosure plan in more than 15 cities from coast to coast, in the streets and online. Between them, HomEq (owned by Barclays), Litton (owned by Goldman Sachs), American Home Mortgage, and OneWest – the “Homewrecker 4” as we’ve dubbed them – are responsible for the mortgages of 2 million American homeowners, but those homeowners are not eligible for the basic foreclosure prevention of the Obama program because their mortgage company hasn’t signed up.
With more than 80% of the industry signed up, there were only a few companies still refusing to participate in the Obama program. Today, there is one fewer, and the “Homewrecker 4” are now the “Homewrecker 3”. Just before our action at the headquarters of OneWest (the new IndyMac), the CEO called us up to promise that he would join the Obama program and ask that we not protest. We told him that a big crowd was coming, and that he would be welcome to address the crowd including OneWest-serviced homeowners, and if he committed in public that it would be a celebration instead of a protest. After considering the choices, he agreed to sign an ACORN “Pledge Card” committing OneWest to join the Obama program in front of the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Univision, and lots of other media. And that was just in Los Angeles!
In New York, ACORN members marched on Goldman’s headquarters on Wall Street, and they were joined by ACORN actions at Goldman Sachs offices in San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Miami, and Philadelphia, as well as Houston ACORN’s direct hit on Litton Loan Servicing’s CEO, and additional events in St. Louis, Columbus, Little Rock, Pittsburgh, Wilmington, Kansas City, and the Rio Grande Valley hitting the four targets. And everywhere, we got attention, including three different stories on the AP wire nationally, and lots of local TV, radio, and print coverage.
Here’s some of what the Associated Press had to say (as published in the Dallas Morning News:)
“Several key mortgage companies that benefited from federal bailout funds have yet to sign onto the Obama administration’s plan to help more homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The community group ACORN held 15 protests around the country Tuesday to draw attention to the slow progress of the administration’s plan, which was launched four months ago. Demonstrators called for the companies, including Litton Loan Servicing, HomEq and OneWest, to sign onto the Obama administration’s $75 billion initiative called “Making Home Affordable.”
After a protest outside OneWest’s office in Pasadena, Calif., CEO Terry Laughlin said the company would participate in the Obama program. The company would become the 24th in the program, including Bank of America, Chase Financial, CitiMortgage and GMAC Mortgage.”
We also had Austin King, director of the ACORN Financial Justice Center, visit two inhospitable cable TV shows, first on Fox News and then on the less ideological Fox Business News (note: you must watch one commercial before viewing either segment) to talk about the urgent need for these companies to modify loans to prevent foreclosures.
If you visit Google News now and search for ACORN and foreclosures, there are currently more than 900 media hits from the last 24 hours, mostly from the Associated Press story reaching far and wide, and this story from the Wall Street Journal:
“ACORN and MomsRising ire originates over Litton, a loan-servicing company owned by Goldman, and three other mortgage companies: Barclay’s HomEq, IndyMac’s OneWest, and American Home Mortgage. Litton has yet to join the Obama MHA program which would obligates lenders to adhere to practices aimed at preventing foreclosure, such as modifying troubled mortgages…OneWest, one of the four lenders targeted by ACORN and MomsRising, made a statement yesterday that they will sign on to the Obama plan.”
Here’s a quick look at some additional early press coverage we received:
This exciting day of action also allowed us to flex our growing online muscle in support of the demand that the “Homewrecker 4” sign on to the Obama plan. A blast that went out to our entire list on Monday morning featured the story of Irene Leary, an 84-year-old Los Angeles homeowner whose home was scheduled to be sold that same day by OneWest. Anyone who clicked through to send a demand email to the 4 CEOs was then presented with an ask to call OneWest’s VP of home retention to demand that Irene’s sale be delayed.
Combined with our partners at MomsRising, we sent each CEO approximately 20,000 emails, and on Monday morning generated over 800 phone calls to OneWest. With all that pressure, OneWest agreed to postpone Irene’s sale and work with her toward a modification, which is all the more likely to happen now that they are joining the Obama plan! We will continue to put pressure on the remaining “Homewrecker 3” until they sign on the dotted line, but we have good reason to hope that our actions have made a difference today and that we may win commitments from one or more of the remaining holdouts.
ACORN is fiercely fighting the good fight against foreclosures, and we are seeing the fruits of our efforts, both in the little things like winning postponement of Irene’s sale and in the big things like getting OneWest’s CEO to join the Obama plan. We will continue to push the best local solution to the crisis – the “Philadelphia Miracle” of mandatory mediation, which yesterday celebrated its one-year anniversary since ACORN fought for and won its creation. But we are also taking the fight directly to the companies whose actions are exacerbating the crisis, at a time when debates over the future of the industry and its size and power are heating up on Capitol Hill.
As long as families continue to lose their homes in this crisis, ACORN will keep fighting. And we couldn’t do it without your ongoing support.
Steve Kest ACORN Executive Director Bertha Lewis ACORN CEO