AFR in the News: Community Advocates Seek Better Data on Mortgage Relief

Community and consumer groups are pushing for a neighborhood-by-neighborhood breakdown of relief delivered by the National Mortgage Settlement, according to an article in eCreditDaily. The article quotes from AFR’s March 27 letter to the official settlement monitor, Joseph A. Smith: “The Monitor should share this data at a census tract or zip code level,” the letter states, “so that the public may finally understand which neighborhoods are being provided with foreclosure relief under the settlement. Without this data, it is impossible to measure the impact of the national mortgage settlement in any meaningful way…”

Smith’s latest report shows that much of the relief provided by the five lenders involved — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial – has taken the form of short sales with “deficiency forgiven,” which defeats the purpose of keeping more families in their homes, consumer groups say. The groups are particularly concerned about the delivery of relief to the hardest-hit, minority communities.

“’Discriminatory and predatory lending practices inflated the subprime lending bubble and caused the nation’s financial collapse and foreclosure crisis,’ states the letter to Smith. ‘Today, banks are reportedly failing to maintain REO properties in communities of color adequately, and there is evidence that vacant homes lost to foreclosure are driving down property values and driving up crime in hardest-hit neighborhoods.’”