Hundreds of people from communities across the country visited the Chevy Chase home of Bank of America's Deputy General Counsel, Gregory Baer, last week.
On Wednesday, Fortunate Magazine's Nina Easton, who lives across the street from Baer, wrote in her column that going to Baer's home was out of bounds. Today she took her story to Fox News. See SEIU's response here.
Bank of America came to the homes of millions of Americans when they engaged in predatory lending that helped drive the financial crisis, foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of families, littered communities with vacant properties, and stripped wealth from families by financing payday lenders that charge an average interest rate of 455 percent.
Bank of America came to the home of Trenda Kennedy of Springfield, IL when they called the day her son died to tell her they were preparing to foreclose. Ms. Kennedy has tried, repeatedly, to work with Bank of America to modify her loan and prevent foreclosure, but with no result. She has sent Bank of America the documentation necessary to negotiate a loan modification 12 times, the exact same number of times they have misplaced it. Now it is quite possible that Ms. Kennedy will soon not have a home.
Bank of America came to the home of Edda Lopez of the Bronx when they refused to honor a modification agreement from her previous lender, which Bank of America bought. Ms. Lopez, who is in a wheelchair, has lived in her home for nearly 20 years. Last August she renegotiated her mortgage payment under the Homeowners Affordable Modification Program. In March 2010 Bank of America sent Ms. Lopez a notice refusing to honor that agreement. Unless something changes, Ms. Lopez could soon be without a home.
Bank of America came to the home of Mitzi Rivers-Singleton of Wichita, KA when they provided millions in financing for payday lenders such as Advance America. In an attempt to keep her utilities on, she fell victim to Advance America and the predator debt cycle of payday lending. A $300 payday loan costs the borrower on average $750, stripping wealth from families that don't have much wealth to begin with. It's especially troubling that Bank of America, which played a key role in the financial crisis, received billions in taxpayer bailouts, then finances a product designed to prey on taxpayers in tough economic times.
Sadly, the stories of these three women are not unique, but demonstrate how Bank of America wreaks financial havoc in the homes of Americans everyday.
Bank of America has come to the neighborhoods of millions of Americans, and it's not pretty. Take Chicago, where in 2009, Bank of America filed foreclosure on nearly 4000 families, well over 1000 more than the second highest foreclosing lender. Not only are families now without homes, neighbors are stuck with vacant Bank of America properties driving down property values and becoming havens for crime and drugs.
Going to Baer's home was not a first attempt to engage Bank of America, but rather a last resort. National People's Action has tried the formal channels of engaging Bank of America with no success.
We've sent letters via U.S. Mail and delivered them by hand, emailed, called, and protested outside of Bank of America offices. Despite more than 20 different attempts to get Bank of America to address their negative impact on neighborhoods nationwide, the bank has continued foreclosing on families, littering neighborhoods with bank owned properties, and financing payday lending.
Our goal is to convince Bank of America to improve corporate policy so they do a much better job at helping people build wealth vs. stripping wealth away. We are hopeful that they will listen to the growing number of people calling for Bank of America to start being good for America.