Jean Braucher is the Roger C. Henderson Professor of Law at the University of Arizona law school. She occasionally guest posts on Georgetown Law School Professor, Adam Levitin’s blog, Credit Slips. Last week she posted a piece titled, “Fighting Foreclosure Fatigue.” Reading it, although I can’t say its message came as a surprise, made me slightly ill. I had to lay down for a bit to stop from throwing up.
The inspiration for her piece was that several of her friends in Washington had basically told her that folks in the Obama Administration had grown bored with the foreclosure crisis… frankly, they were just kind of tired of hearing about it. As in… YAWN… “Oh, I’m sorry… you were saying…”
Here’s how her piece begins… (and be sure to stick around for my 2-minute movie at the end…)
“Folks in Washington tell me there is a general sense of “foreclosure fatigue” in our nation’s capital. It’s just so boring to keep thinking about all the people losing their homes year after year. Can’t we move on to something new? This attitude goes along with a failure to do anything meaningful to get out of the five-year-old mortgage crisis, still very much with us. More charitably, the people who would like to do something see no political opening in an election year.”
So, they’re bored with the foreclosure crisis, is that it? Well, that’s understandable, after all they’ve spent the last four years talking about it almost… NEVER. The issue of foreclosures doesn’t even appear on President Obama’s campaign Website, not that you’ll find it on Mitt Romney’s either.
No, the fact of the matter is, according to our two candidates for president, the foreclosure crisis that continues to tear the lives of millions of middle class families to shreds… the crisis that is cutting scars in the fabric of this country that are unlikely to heal for 50 years… the crisis that’s on a scale no one has even imagined since the 1930s… the crisis that has middle class families living in their cars, and almost one in six dependent on food stamps… and according to the two men running for president, it doesn’t even warrant a mention while on the campaign trail.
And now I’m supposed to come to terms with the idea that the administration’s bored with the topic itself? I could understand it if they were bored with something they’d mastered, although I can’t for the life of me imagine what could go in that category. But, you’re not supposed to become bored with something you continue to fail at miserably. What ever happened to, “If at first you don’t succeed..?”
They’re bored. Isn’t that something… bored… they’re tired of the whole thing. Can’t we please move onto something else… is that the idea in Washington these days? Well, that does explain a lot. I bet they’re kind of tired of unemployment too, which is why that situation is being corrected at about the same pace as foreclosures are decreasing.
I thought I’d share with you a letter I received yesterday from a 71 year-old woman from Arizona. I won’t include anything that would give away her identity, but in light of the administration’s boredom, I think her story just has to be heard.
I unhappily report that on June 11th, I was evicted from my 4-plex.
Since I did not welcome the six big men to come in, and reacted (to me, quite normally) to being handcuffed behind my back, I was ARRESTED and taken to the 4th Street jail.
I had been raking up poop in my backyard and had a pair of ratty old shorts and a shirt on (no underwear) and managed to get one shoe on before I was painfully manhandled into a car.
No purse, no keys, no money, no phone, no ID, other that my Driver’s License that SOMEONE took from my wallet.
Six big men and one 71 year-old woman.
What followed is too much to put on paper and will take me a long time to get over (for a lady who never had even a parking ticket).
From Monday until Friday, my six cats could not be found – anywhere in the system – even though my kids in Chicago were trying too!!!
They were found STILL IN MY APARTMENT, five days later, in different rooms, some with food, some with a kitty box.
The deputy (who arrested me!) broke a window to get at them and four were taken by friends. Two jumped through the window and nearly three weeks later are still missing, although food and water have been provided.
Citi Mortgage is sooooo much more than a Goliath Bully!!
Please remind Neil that he said I wouldn’t lose my 4-plex.
I’m staying in one room in Scottsdale and still don’t have my car off the property.
BTW, there’s a Warrant out for my arrest too!
See, now when I read that for the first time, the last thing that came to my mind was, “Yada, yada, yada… Lord is this dull.” In fact, I was rather glued to my seat, waiting to read of the next moment of sheer horror this woman was going to be forced to endure in order to create yet another vacant property in Phoenix.
I guess that was the only possible way to have worked that out, is that what I’m supposed to believe McGarrett? Which one of you law enforcement geniuses came up with that plan of attack, because someone should punch your ticket right now and make sure you get promoted no further. You’ve obviously got the communications skills of a Pop-Tart. That’s great… if you’re over 70 in Phoenix, you have to be afraid of the police. That’s fantastic.
Or, let me guess… you thought you saw a weapon?
And then there was this piece of news from last week that I think would have made for some very compelling television, or maybe even a feature film…
(PHOENIX) — An Arizona millionaire who died minutes after he was convicted of arson appeared to have put something in his mouth while in the court room, sparking an investigation into whether the convicted arsonist had poisoned himself.
Michael Marin, 53, was convicted on Thursday of purposefully burning down his $2.55 million mansion in the tony Biltmore Estates neighborhood of Phoenix after he was unable to keep up with mortgage payments and a plan to raffle his house through a charity fundraiser failed. He faced up to 16 years in prison.
After the guilty verdict on one count of arson was read, a seemingly distraught Marin buried his face into his hands and appeared to place something in his mouth.
His face began to turn red. Minutes later, he took a sip of a liquid from a plastic sports bottle, turned to get a tissue, experienced convulsions and collapsed.
He was pronounced dead at the hospital…
BORING? Someone finds this stuff boring? Sheesh… some people are just that tough to please, I suppose.
Professor Braucher’s article went on to mention that there’s some darn fine reasons to stay focused on the foreclosure crisis for at least a little longer…
“There is plenty of reason to develop some will for action. It should not go unnoticed here that both foreclosure starts and repossessions went up in the most recent monthly report of Realty Trac. Foreclosure starts in May resulted in the first 12-month increase nationally in more than two years. The highest rates of foreclosure activity, from one in 300 to one in 340 housing units, were, in order, in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, California, Illinois, and Florida. The top three metro areas for foreclosure starts, in order, were Riverside, CA, Atlanta, and Phoenix.”
And she also points out that…
… not just foreclosure starts, but also bank repossessions were up in May.
Now, that’s odd. Both foreclosure starts and bank repossessions were up in May? The first 12 -month increase nationally in more than two years? Now, why would that be the case… I could have sworn everything was recovering just last week. The Phoenix housing market was red-hot again. House flipping was all the rage in the Valley of the Sun, no?
Or could it be that, as I and I can’t count how many others have pointed out, the banks slowed down foreclosing in October of 2010 in response to the “robo-signing” scandal making headlines, and they awaited the National Mortgage Settlement to be finalized before picking up the pace once again? Ya’ think?
So, that means that the last two years have been artificially LIGHT on foreclosures? These last two years have been the “good times” of the foreclosure crisis? My Lord, we are in deep kim-chee if that’s the case… and it most assuredly is.
Gee, I wonder… if that’s the case and the number of foreclosures and bank repossessions have been artificially low these last couple of years, then that would mean that we don’t really know how far down real estate would have fallen had the numbers of foreclosures been what they should have been… which means that the forecasts might all be reflecting optimistic numbers because they were based on much lower numbers that they should have been based on… just like the forecasts made in 2008 that used historical numbers at that point in time… oh dear.
I think it was my grandmother that said it best when she said at moments like these…
“Just lead ‘em into the round house, Nel, they can’t corner you there.”
Professor Braucher wraps up her article by bringing up this very point, and how coincidental is that? Freaky, right? Go figure…
“The biggest reason for the pick-up in foreclosure activity nationally may be that major banks were holding off during the negotiations over the national mortgage settlement, finalized in March. Now servicers have clear guidelines on process.
If the settlement actually meant a big increase in modifications, we might expect a reduction in foreclosure starts. Under the settlement with 49 state attorneys general and the federal government, Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Ally/GMAC are supposed to offer at least $10 billion in principal reduction over the next three years.
Some lucky homeowners are getting offers out of the blue, see here, but there is no application process for principal reduction mods and numbers on their production have yet to be released.
Foot dragging on mods . . . reminds me of something, HAMP, so 2010. Feeling a yawn coming on? Fight it.”
So, I guess one thing is clear… if the Obama Administration is bored now, they’re going to have one heck of a time staying awake through a second term in office. I don’t know how they’ll ever get through it. Maybe if he gets reelected, we should all get together and send him cases of Red Bull? I’m in for a case if everyone else thinks it might help.
Okay, so I’m not going to say much more about this… just a couple of quick points, if you wouldn’t mind.
I believe what Professor Braucher was told by her Washington D.C. contacts is true, that is to say, I think it was exceptionally candid… and dead on accurate. And if boredom isn’t exactly the right word, then I think our elected officials are feeling a certain sort of malaise. They don’t know precisely what ails them, but they’re feeling like a mouse feels when being eyed hungrily by an out of sight cat.
They haven’t a clue of what to do about anything, because anything they might do carries too much political risk. What one audience would like to hear, the other is locked, loaded and ready to fire on the second they hear it come from anyone’s mouth. Truth be told, I have the distinct feeling that they’d all like to be able to just go hide out on some island somewhere and come home after the election in November to find out the results.
And I can only say that their lack of backbone is every bit as appalling as it is disgraceful. To watch them ignore something so painfully obvious and utterly horrific is to understand what a person looks like that can never be trusted. They must know that millions look upon them with complete disgust, how can they not?
At least something like 50 million people have felt the total disregard and blatant unfairness of the Obama Administration’s policy decisions these last four years, but don’t gloat members of the GOP… you have established yourselves to be no better.
When I was a boy my parents told me that in this country I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be… an astronaut… a deep sea diver… a famous surgeon… a U.S. Senator… or even the President of the United States.
I can’t imagine that the picture of the president that my parents had in their mind’s eye back then was anything close to what mine is today. It couldn’t have been. For today I would never say such a thing to my daughter, and not only that, I’d slap across the face any man who said those words to or about her.
“Excuse me… what did you just say? Did I just hear you say that my daughter could be the president?
Nobody talks about my daughter like that and gets away with it.
And to our politicians, let me just say…
Nihil Gloriae, Sine Fortitudinem.
It’s Latin, of course. It means… No Guts, No Glory.
P.S. Click play on the screen below for a little two-minute movie I made depicting the conversation that goes on in my own mind from time to time as I watch the disingenuous nature of their campaigns. To me, it’s like watching FDR pretend there was no Great Depression going on, or Churchill forgetting to mention WWII.
It’s rated just a tiny bit ‘R’ because of one word used right in the beginning… after that it’s PG all the way.