In a unanimous 11-0 vote on Tuesday afternoon, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an official resolution calling for a moratorium on all foreclosures in the city.
"The foreclosure crisis has already devastated so many lives," Supervisor John Avalos, the legislator who introduced the bill last month, said in a statement. "This resolution is an important step to support solutions to prevent millions of Americans from losing their homes."
Avalos has said that he, like legions of other homeowners in his neighborhood, is about $100,000 underwater on his own mortgage.
While the resolution is non-binding, meaning that banks can still legally foreclose on properties in San Francisco, the bill gives voice to the frustrations many local housing activists have with the foreclosure practices of the major banks operating in the city.
"The banks have torn apart our communities and caused a financial and health crisis by unjustly foreclosing and evicting our neighbors from their homes," said Christine Hakim, an organizer of the neighborhood group Occupy Bernal, in a statement. "We support those city officials who have joined with the state Attorney General [Kamala Harris] in calling for an immediate halt to predatory and for-profit foreclosures and related auctions and evictions."
Harris, who previously served as San Francisco's District Attorney, was one of the leading proponents of increasing the dollar figure of what ultimately turned out to be a $25 billion settlement between 49 state attorneys general and the country's banks over allegations of widespread mortgage fraud.
Harris has also proposed a "Homeowner's Bill of Rights," a series of six state-level bills that would offer Californians a number of protections against predatory lending.
In addition to calling for a temporary end to foreclosures until an appropriate system of statewide and/or national protections are put into place, the resolution voiced support for Harris' bills and called on city officials to work on behalf of citizens in danger of losing their homes.
The Board's resolution comes on the heels of an audit of some 400 recent San Francisco foreclosures conducted by city Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting that found a staggering 84 percent were illegal or were missing crucial documentation.
"This matters because families facing foreclosures are entitled to know exactly who holds their loan and to see for certain that the foreclosure is justified," Ting wrote in a blog on The Huffington Post. "In one case, our audit showed a foreclosure initiated by a party that had no title to the property--and in a number of other cases, we found two competing claims to the title."
"The system is completely broken," Ting told the Bay Citizen.
The Huffington Post reported last month:
San Francisco Bayview resident Vivian Richardson told The Huffington Post that the audit revealed the validity of homeowner claims.
"It's not like we all just drank the Kool-Aid one day or called each other up and said, 'Lets stop paying our loans,'" she told HuffPost. "Something is obviously wrong with the loans. This audit proved that we aren't crazy; this crisis is affecting so many of us."
Foreclosures have displaced over 12,000 San Francisco residens since 2008.Check out this video looking at forced foreclosures: