Thanks to my sister for sharing news of veteran U.S. legal aid attorney William Brennan and his testimony in Congress on 24 May 2000. So Congress had first-hand knowledge of what was going on from an attorney helping elderly, often female and Black persons (who quite often already owned their homes) from becoming statistics in very elaborate, far-reaching and high-pressure credit scams. In May 2000 Carlo and I were in Skopje, Macedonia. On 9 Aug 2007 we published an entry here at Marian's Blog entitled "The colour of sub-prime, & trans-Atlantic cash." Who knew that ever-larger financial chips would still be falling more than a year later? Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac... And that's only the U.S. list. In 2007 I blogged, "How about "trans-Atlanticism in the 'hood", as France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, temporarily shut down investor access to three BNP private-investor funds linked to U.S. so-called 'sub-prime' mortgage lending." Is anyone in the international human rights establishment paying the slightest attention?
|Testimony of William J. Brennan, Jr.|
Testimony of William J. Brennan, Jr., Director
Thank you for this opportunity to address the United States House Committee on Banking and Financial Services on the subject of predatory mortgage lending practices directed against elderly, minority, low and moderate income, and women homeowners. My name is William J. Brennan, Jr. For almost 32 years, I have been a staff attorney at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. specializing in housing and consumer issues. For the past 12 years, I have served as the director of the Home Defense Program of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
Over the years, the Home Defense Program has provided referrals and legal representation to hundreds of low and moderate income homeowners and home buyers who have been victimized by home equity and home purchase scams, including predatory mortgage lending. The Program is funded by the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the DeKalb County, Georgia, Department of Human and Community Development with HUD community development block grant funds. The Program consists of myself, a staff attorney, and a paralegal.
On a daily basis, we assist individual homeowners who have been targeted by local and national companies with abusive, predatory mortgage lending practices. We evaluate their cases to determine whether legal claims exist. We settle some cases without litigation and litigate others. Most often, because of our limited resources, we assist homeowners in obtaining private attorneys to represent them in cases where the homeowners may have legal claims. Where appropriate, we also refer homeowners to local nonprofit housing counseling and other agencies which assist them in obtaining refinancing of their high cost mortgage loans through low cost, conventional mortgage lenders or other special programs. We refer many senior citizen homeowners for reverse mortgages. We also participate on a regular basis in a range of community education efforts aimed at warning home buyers and homeowners against home equity theft scams, including abusive mortgage lending practices.
When homeowners come to the Home Defense Program with subprime mortgage loans, my job is to conduct an investigation and determine whether they have any legal claim. In a few cases, a strong legal claim exists that will result in a settlement that cancels the mortgage. In other cases, legal claims exist that will result in a settlement that may give the homeowner some cash and a restructured mortgage loan with a lower balance, lower interest rate, and lower monthly payments that the homeowner can afford. In too many cases, the loan is full of predatory and abusive lending terms, but I can find no legal claim. Homeowners who are not eligible for a reverse mortgage or low cost refinance are bound to those high cost, abusive mortgages with no legal recourse. When they cannot make the payments, they go into default and lose their homes and all their equity. ..."
Mr. Brennan's testimony continues here: http://www.atlantalegalaid.org/testimony.htm