Fair housing groups ask courts to squelch investor lawsuit against Richmond

For Immediate Release                                                                                             Contact: See Below      

Monday, Sept 9, 2013                                                                                             


Fair Housing Groups Ask Court to Deny Banks’ Effort to

Stop Richmond’s Mortgage Rescue Plan

Industry threats constitute illegal, discriminatory lending practice, and would lead to redlining in Richmond


A coalition of fair housing and civil right groups filed an amicus brief in federal court today, supporting the City of Richmond’s opposition to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by trustees Wells Fargo Bank and Deutsche Bank. The trustees (Wells and Deutsche Bank) seek to block the City’s plan to help homeowners by restructuring underwater mortgages.


The brief, filed by the law firm Relman, Dane, & Colfax PLLC, on behalf of the National Housing Law Project, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, Bay Area Legal Aid, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and the California Reinvestment Coalition, argues that the actions the securitization industry has threatened to take to block the program, known as Richmond CARES, would amount to illegal redlining and would violate federal and state fair housing and fair lending laws, including the federal Fair Housing Act.


Richmond is 40% Hispanic and 25% African-American, and the fair housing and civil rights groups argue that the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) plan would therefore have a disparate impact on minority borrowers.


Kevin Stein, Associate Director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained: “Banks continue to fail at keeping Richmond families in their homes, without any real consequences from their regulators.  Instead of fighting the city and threatening to redline Richmond, the banks should refocus their efforts on helping homeowners, especially since more than half (51%) of them are underwater in Richmond.” 


Last summer, the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) announced that in response to Richmond’s plan to help homeowners, SIFMA would block any future mortgages made in Richmond from being accepted in the most desirable part of the secondary market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS).  By restricting access, the cost of credit would likely rise dramatically for Richmond borrowers.


Marcia Rosen, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project, explained: “The Banks’ attempt to prevent Richmond from responding to its foreclosure crisis is especially egregious given their role in the predatory lending underlying the crisis.   And the assertion that the injunction is necessary to protect the public interest from their own threatened redlining of the city must be seen for what it is — discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act that would further harm this beleaguered city and its residents.”


“What the securitization industry says it will do to the people of Richmond if it loses in the city council and the federal courthouse is racially discriminatory redlining, and it is illegal under federal and state law.  We fully expect that if the industry ever tries to go forward with its redlining plan, a court will step in and stop it,” said Glenn Schlactus of Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C.


Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, explained, “The mortgage servicing industry has lost money for investors for years by failing to work with homeowners on foreclosure avoidance options, particularly principal reduction.  The industry knows that principal reduction is the wise financial choice for investors and homeowners alike.  But now, disingenuously, the industry claims that a plan with principal reduction will hurt investors.  The fact is, the eminent domain proposal is likely to save investors money over the years to come, as well as maintaining communities and saving the city from tremendous losses.”


Hearing: A hearing on the trustees’ motion for a preliminary injunction and the City of Richmond’s motion to dismiss the case will be held on September 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, presiding.


San Francisco Resolution supporting Richmond introduced: A resolution supporting the City of Richmond’s program was introduced today by San Francisco County Supervisor David Campos, recognizing the damage done to local communities by the foreclosure crisis, and supporting Richmond’s efforts to confront the problem head on.


Additional background:

The City of Richmond’s local principal reduction program Richmond CARES, launched with a vote by City Council in April, will acquire certain underwater mortgages, through regular purchase or eminent domain if necessary, in order to restructure the troubled mortgages and help the homeowners modify or refinance, getting them mortgages with reduced principal in-line with current home values.  Community, labor and faith groupssupporting the program say it will allow the City to preserve wealth in local hands, especially in communities of color and low-income communities that have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis and see no end in sight. In Richmond, 51% of all residential mortgage holders are still underwater.


In August, more than 50 fair housing, labor and community groups sent a letter to Congress, declaring that federal agencies should respect the right of cities like to pursue local principal reduction programs without facing redlining or illegal discrimination by the big banks or federal agencies.     




United Way of the Bay Area and Wells Fargo launch financial counseling network

(from left to right) Amisha Patel, District Manager, Wells Fargo; Raminder Somal, Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo; Greg Morgan, North Bay President, Wells Fargo; Molly Carter, Development Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christa Brown, Community Mobilization Officer,  United Way of the Bay Area; Christine Poremski, Sparkpoint Marin Director, United Way of the Bay Area

(from left to right)
Amisha Patel, District Manager, Wells Fargo; Raminder Somal, Community Development Officer, Wells Fargo; Greg Morgan, North Bay President, Wells Fargo; Molly Carter, Development Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christa Brown, Community Mobilization Officer, United Way of the Bay Area; Christine Poremski, Sparkpoint Marin Director, United Way of the Bay Area

RICHMOND — Sparkpoint West Contra Costa County was one of five Bay Area locations awarded $450,000 by Wells Fargo as part of an effort to provide financial counseling for low-and moderate-income households, Wells Fargo announced Tuesday.

The money is part of a five-year, $5 million partnership between Wells Fargo and United Way to provide households with financial education, training and access to financial services.

“Wells Fargo is committed to providing communities more access to financial support services they need,” Greg Morgan, president of Wells Fargo’s North Bay market, said in a prepared statement. “We want more people in the Bay Area to feel empowered to take charge of their financial situations.

In addition to the Richmond Sparkpoint, four other area locations sharing the $450,000 are: SparkPoint Oakland, SparkPoint Solano, SparkPoint American Canyon and SparkPoint Marin.

Created by United Way of the Bay Area, SparkPoint Centers are financial education centers that help individuals and families with a range of services, including creating step-by-step personal financial plans.


Conference at Pinole Wells Fargo on Tuesday


March 8, 2013


David Sharples, ACCE

(415) 377-9037




Report provides first-ever look at a major bank’s current foreclosure pipeline in California’s cities and the impact of these foreclosures on the State’s economy.

WHAT: Press conference and call to discuss new state-of-the-art findings regarding Wells Fargo’s current foreclosure pipeline and consequences for California’s economy in 2013.

Photo opportunity: homeowners protesting at bank that is foreclosing on them.

WHO: Members of the Community Group ACCE including struggling homeowners

WHEN: Press Conference: Tuesday, March 12 at 1:30pm

WHERE: Wells Fargo Branch,1374 Fitzgerald Dr., Pinole, CA

WHY: The foreclosure crisis continues to damage California’s economy. On Tuesday, policy experts will release a state-of-the-art report documenting the number of homes currently facing foreclosure in California and the economic consequences of these foreclosures for neighboring homeowners, local and state governments, investors, and the families who will lose their homes. The data is broken out by city for the largest 21 cities in California for tailored local reports. The report was written by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

Although Wells Fargo recently announced a record $19 billion in profit in 2012, the bank continues to resist a comprehensive program of mortgage principal reduction, despite the fact that economists from across the political spectrum believe principal reduction is the key to generating a robust recovery for California. If Wells Fargo carries through on its current foreclosure threats, California homeowners

primarily neighbors of foreclosed homes will see a $3.3 billion reduction in their property values.



Richmond protest against banks set for Wednesday

press release:





David Sharples, 415-377-9037, dsharples@calorganize.org

Maurice Weeks, 973-494-2461, mweeks@calorganize.org

Rose Gudiel, 562-208-0049, gudiel_rose@yahoo.com


California Homeowners Denounce Hometown Wells Fargo for its Abysmal Performance in Keeping Californians in their Homes

ACCE Home Defenders League Launches Campaign against Wells Fargo


Richmond, CA

On Wednesday, February 27th homeowners with the ACCE Home Defenders League will descend upon Wells branches across the state and announce their campaign calling on Wells Fargo to enact a broad principal reduction program, reduce short sales and release data on borrowers helped by income and race.



What: Statewide launch of campaign to make Wells Fargo implement a broad principal reduction program

Who: Wells Fargo homeowners with the ACCE Home Defenders League and supporters

When: 11:30 am, Wednesday February 27th, 2013

Where: 4300 Macdonald Ave, Richmond (as well as San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland)

Wells Fargo is the largest mortgage servicer in California and is currently in the process of foreclosing on more homeowners than any other bank. Wells Fargo has resisted offering principal reduction as a standard element of loan modifications, and the dollar amount of principal reduction Wells Fargo is providing is paltry. According to recent progress report from the Monitor of the Attorney General settlement, Wells Fargo’s average amount of principal reduction was $74,837, compared to Bank of America’s $192,090. And Bank of America gave out nearly $1 billion more in principal reduction during this period, in California, than Wells Fargo did! Loan modifications with principal reduction will help homeowners stay in their homes and stabilize our communities and our economy.

“Wells Fargo, based here in California, should be a leader in the effort to rebuild California and restore community wealth” says Ross Rhodes, a Wells Fargo borrower and ACCE Home Defenders League member. “Instead, Wells Fargo is a community destroyer, with plans to kick over 3,500 families out of their homes next month. It’s time for Wells Fargo to invest in making California stronger and healthier.”

The ACCE Action Home Defenders League is demanding that Wells Fargo:

Make principal reduction a core front-end strategy when considering loan modifications; Release information on the race and income of the homeowners they foreclose on, evict or assist.

Stop all foreclosures and evictions stop until these steps are put into place.

ACCE Action is a statewide community organization of low and moderate income families and is a statewide anchor of the national Home Defenders League

a network of homeowners fighting back against Wall Street to save their homes.





March on Richmond bank scheduled for Wednesday


Embargoed until Wednesday, December 12th

For more information contact David Sharples, ACCE, 415-377-9037, dsharples@calorganize.org

Homeowners and Activists to March on Richmond Wells Fargo, Occupy the Bank and Demand Affordable Loan Modification and Principal Reduction for Struggling Richmond Homeowner

The group will tell Wells CEO John Stumpf to stop being a Grinch and will sing Christmas Carols like “Arrest ye Merry Bankermen!”

RICHMOND, CA – Members of the community group ACCE, Occupy Activists and other concerned Richmond residents will join Eloisa Mendoza, a struggling Richmond Homeowner, as she marches to a Wells Fargo branch and demands an affordable loan modification and principal reduction.

What: Action on Richmond, CA Wells Fargo

When: Wednesday, December 12th, 5pm

Where: Wells Fargo, 4300 MacDonald Ave, Richmond, CA

ACCE is calling on the major banks to stop being community killers and instead institute policies that put homeownership before foreclosure by using principal reduction as a core strategy to save homes and reboot the economy.

In addition, ACCE is calling on President Obama to get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to institute a real principal reduction program and Replace Ed DeMarco as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic and racial justice. ACCE has chapters in eleven counties across the State of California. For more information visit

http://www.calorganize.org/ or follow ACCE on twitter @CalOrganize