Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Banking Promises Broken
. . . .

Banking Promises Broken

Robert Downes - August 10th, 2009
Random Thoughts
Banking Promises Broken
Robert Downes 8/10/09


Banks have been given billions of dollars over the past year to help lower the mortgages of homeowners in danger of foreclosing. But, as noted in the financial news last week, those funds aren‘t being used as intended. And while banks are making record profits and dishing out billions in bonuses to their employees, the pain in Main Street, America continues.
Take the case of William, a 41-year-old single dad who bought his home near East Bay in Traverse City three years ago for $145,000.
Last week, William (that‘s his middle name) saw his dream of home ownership threatened when his house went up for a foreclosure auction in a sheriff‘s sale.
The good news for William is that no one bid on his house, partly, he says, because mortgage holder, Wells Fargo, tacked on $15,000 in interest as well as fees and penalties for an asking price of $164,000, pricing the modest house out of the market. Now, he says, the home goes back to the note-holder and will be relisted by a realtor friend of his. William‘s parents plan to buy the home and sell it back to him in a year or so when he‘s back on his feet.
Complicated? Yes. Unnecessary? Probably, considering William‘s eight-month struggle with Wells Fargo to try lowering his 9.9 percent mortgage.
Instead of being able to work through the local offices of Wells Fargo, where he might have developed a good working relationship face-to-face, William says he had to deal with negotiators over the phone at some unknown location.
“They wouldn‘t even tell me where their office was,“ he says, adding that he believes he spoke with employees at the company‘s mortgage department in Des Moines, Iowa.
“It‘s been a roller-coaster ride that never seemed to be in good faith,“ he says. “Every time you‘d go to talk with someone there, you‘d end up with someone else.“
He admits to being part of the problem to agreeing to a bad deal in the first place. Three years ago, he was selling used cars with a local dealer when he agreed to a variable ARM mortgage with a local lender.
“My mortgage was bought and sold a couple of times,“ he says. Eventually, it landed with Wells Fargo at 9.9 percent and a monthly payment of $1,100.
“When I was making money, that was fine,“ he says. But then, like so many other Americans, he lost his job.
Last year, he entered into a pre-foreclosure agreement with Wells Fargo. William says he was promised that if he made his mortgage payments for 8 months, the firm would modify his mortgage to a rate of 6 percent.
But William says the firm reneged on the deal and refused to lower his interest rate to 6 percent. Instead, they offered him a “fixed ARM“ at the same 9.9 percent rate, putting him in an impossible situation.
Nor would the company allow him to “short sell“ his home for less than his unpaid mortagage, which is viewed by some as a positive alternative to foreclosure. Although the lender takes a loss in a short sale, it avoids the more costly process of foreclosure.
Instead, William says, the company insisted on sticking him with the 9.9 percent mortgage.
Please note, Wells Fargo received $25 billion in TARP funds from the Bush administration, which was supposed to go toward modifying loans to American homeowners. But, according to an article in USA Today, the company has modified only six percent of its loans to date.
In other words, we taxpayers pumped billions into bailing out U.S. banks, who then refused to lower the mortgage rates of those in the most peril for foreclosure.
“I qualified for all of the Obama administration programs, but the government didn‘t make any demands when they gave Wells Fargo and the other banks the bailout money,“ William says. “It‘s all voluntary, only if the banks want to go along with lowering their rates.“
An article in the Aug. 10 issue of The New Yorker confirms that banks are continuing to drag their feet on helping American homeowners.
Meanwhile, there have been nearly two million foreclosures filed this year alone.
“Last year, Congress enacted the cruelly misnamed Hope for Homeowners program: its restrictions are so tight that, in its first three months of existence, it got applications from barely 300 homeowners,“ writes James Surowiecki in The New Yorker. “The Obama Administration has done better, rolling out a $75 billion mortgage-modification program, which offers mortgage servicers financial incentives to renegotiate loans. So far, it’s managed a couple of hundred thousand mortgages, but that’s been dwarfed by the rising number of foreclosures.“
That $75 billion was supposed to help 36 lenders modify the mortgages of homeowners in danger of foreclosure. But according to a U.S. Treasury report issued last week, only 9 percent of eligible homeowners have had their mortgages lowered under the program.
Surowiecki adds that it would seem to be common sense that banks would want to lower mortgate rates to save the hassle and expense of foreclosing on a home, having it sit empty, and selling it at a bargain-basement price.
But that‘s not the way things have turned out. Instead, banks have learned that 30 percent of borrowers “self cure“ themselves after missing a payment or two and go back to paying their high mortgage rates. Another 30-45 percent of people who have their mortgages modified end up going to foreclosure anyway.
“In both cases, modification leaves the bank worse off,“ Surowiecki writes. “Reluctance to modify mortgages isn’t always a matter of obstinacy or ineptitude. It’s a matter of profit: banks are doing what makes sense for their bottom line.“
The banking lobby also killed a plan last year which would have allowed bankruptcy judges the power to reduce the principal on troubled mortgages. It‘s the same sort of lobbying influence and footdragging you see on the part of the insurance industry, trying to derail health care reform, while getting their cut of taxpayer dollars.
William says his credit rating has been wrecked by the experience of trying to renegotiate his mortgage.
“It‘s stressful when you‘re a single dad and out of work and have all of these other things going on in your life,“ he says. “It‘s like a magic carpet ride when you add in dealing with the banks and how they screw you over.“
One bright spot is that he‘s going back to college for a degree in computer science. He hopes to purchase his home back from his parents when he gets on his feet.
Does he ever feel like saying to hell with it and bailing out on his home entirely?
“No, because it‘s a wonderful neighborhood two blocks from the beach, and my daughter is going to school here this fall and I‘m going to the college right next door. I‘m here for the long term.“

 
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