Attorney General Kamala D. HarrisAlong with the Secretary of HUD, Attorney General Harris came to L.A. to inform the community about details of the mortgage settlement. Last week Wednesday, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan met with a cross section of the community leaders followed by the media to discuss the details of California Homeowner Bill of Rights (CHBR) and the status of the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS). A/G Harris is proposing the CHBR in order to fix California's broken mortgage process and extend to all borrowers many of the same reforms negotiated for in the recent national mortgage settlement. This process is designed to provide some relief to those affected by the rash of foreclosures in their communities. When she unveiled the CHBR earlier this year, A/G Harris announced that it would protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies, and help consumers and communities cope with the state's urgent mortgage fraud and foreclosure crisis. During the mortgage fraud crisis (which is still present), A/G Harris teamed up and formed alliances with the attorneys-general of neighboring Nevada, and other states to go after big banks for their roles in the rash of foreclosures around the nation. According to the statistics, California, Nevada and Florida were the hardest hit states in the economic downturn, and that had a rippling effect on home values across the nation causing those values to plummet. The result: California had the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation and Nevada, the highest.After meeting with the community leaders, the attorney-general told reporters that the bank settlement is historic and it will eventually have a positive impact on the homeowners who are in crisis ... "last year there were about half a million foreclosures in California, and this year, the number is the same. The work of Secretary Donovan and the national settlement is a part of a broad based relief." In addition A/G Harris said, "In California, the reforms will be codified, so that we'll never have to go back again." It appears that the national settlement is for three years but there is movement in the works to make it permanent.
Also, she said that a part of the settlement agreement is for "lenders to designate a single person to contact at the bank." One of the reasons that borrowers have been stymied is because they have been a different person at the banks and/or mortgage companies when trying to work out a solution or remedy relative to their mortgage loans. Secretary spoke briefly about the incredible task it had been "to bring about a good settlement. Both the attorney general and me know that our work is not finished; the settlement is important, but it is only one step."The most important was to help," he continued, "is counseling that was built into the settlement." Furthermore, he added, "Free help is available at the HUD hotline ...for families that have been foreclosed on, there is an orientation process ... we need to make sure homeowners never suffer and that's what the Bill of Rights is for. There is also one at the federal level. We must help communities rebuild and we will continue to work wit Attorney General Harris." A/G Harris also noted, "None of this help (from the settlement) precludes a family from their legal rights to go after the lenders (in court)."The CHBR fact sheet on the A/G's website contains relevant information about foreclosures in many of the state's counties. It also has details of the Foreclosure Reduction Act of 2012 and the Homeowners' Due Process Rights Act. AS AN ADDENDUM:Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced this week two historic national settlements with Abbott Laboratories over the illegal off-label marketing of its Depakote drug. California joined other states and the federal government in a $1.5 billion civil and criminal settlement with Abbott Laboratories. The second largest recovery ever from a pharmaceutical company, this settlement resolves false claims made by Abbott Laboratories to Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs. The second settlement, a $100 million civil consumer protection settlement, is the largest consumer protection settlement ever reached with a pharmaceutical company. "This company put people in harm's way through the deceptive off-label uses of its drug," Attorney General Harris said. "Californians should be able to trust the companies that produce pharmaceuticals and the magnitude of this settlement shows the seriousness of the offenses."