A banking industry lobbyist and Ohio's Attorney General went toe-to-toe Tuesday; both assessing blame and offering assistance to people who are suffering through the housing foreclosure crisis. Ideastream®'s Rick Jackson recaps the conversations from WCPN's The Sound Of Ideas.
The numbers are staggering - 100,000 ongoing home foreclosure cases across Ohio - 15,000 of those in Cuyahoga County.
The program guests differed on not only why the numbers are that high, but on the validity of some foreclosure cases.
Paul Leonard is V-P of Government Affairs for the Housing Policy Council in Washington, a lobbyist group.
He says despite a recent focus on foreclosures being processed with little to no oversight - the vast majority of the cases under review will likely prove legitimate, and that the temporary foreclosure stoppage by lenders just further hurts communities.
"A third of the foreclosures are vacant properties that really need to go on sale so someone else can buy them so we can start to clear the inventory and help the economic recovery move forward."
Richard Cordray was the first of several dozen Attorneys General to file suit against big national banks that signed off on foreclosure documents without actually reading them - what's come to be known as robo-signing.
He calls that perjury, and insists that they are only concerned about their bottom lines.
"It's a fee-based model and they aren't particularly caring about individual homeowners. They have no basis or stake in our communities like the community banks do, and it's just become a paper mill for them. We have no idea whether anything they're saying is accurate."
Leonard responded that the 'not-caring' accusation is a fallacy; but conceded that it is the mega-banks, including J-P Morgan Chase, GMAC, Bank of America, and locally prominent PNC that stopped further foreclosure work pending investigation of document handling.... while smaller and locally-owned Third Federal, with many Northeast Ohio mortgages, did not.
Some callers said they felt big mortgage holders have excess control.... but William, of Bedford, argues that government is complicit, in allowing the crisis to continue.
"You wanted to solve the problem, all these houses are sold at Sheriff's sales for pennies on the dollar. Give the homeowners the same opportunity to purchase the property at the discounted rate that Joe Schmoe who's going to the auction can buy it."
Another program guest reminded listeners that help is available for those currently involved in foreclosure, by contacting the Ohio Fair Lending Coalition.