A new advocacy group is urging big banks to slash principal, halt foreclosures and otherwise help millions of underwater homeowners, the latest wave of backlash against the countrys largest lenders.
The Home Defenders League, a national coalition of homeowners and community groups, kicked off its effort Thursday and plans to spend the coming weeks adding members, asking politicians for their positions on housing and educating voters on which candidates side with homeowners, organizers said.
The group is targeting areas hit hardest by the housing crisis, especially those in swing states, including North Carolina. The goal is to reboot the nations still-struggling housing market, organizers said.
Top mortgage servicers, including Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. and San Franciscos Wells Fargo & Co., agreed in February to a $25 billion settlement with government officials over improper foreclosure practices. Under the terms, the lenders will reduce principal and modify loans for some homeowners, among other steps.
Bank of America began sending more than 200,000 letters this spring offering principal reductions as part of the settlement, for instance. A bank spokesman on Thursday declined to comment on the Home Defenders League, saying he was unfamiliar with the group.
Coalition organizers said they want to help homeowners who qualify for assistance under the deal, as well as others who are struggling to stay in their homes. Among the groups demands: that banks implement widespread principal reductions, allow people to stay in their homes after a foreclosure by paying rent and allow those homeowners a chance to buy back their homes at todays market value.
I know first-hand how hard it is to fight the millionaire banks and win, homeowner activist Ruby Brown of Minnesota said. But thats what were doing.