ACORN Urges Goldman Sachs, Barclays to Up Modification Rate

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) organized four protests against Litton Loan Servicing and its parent company, Goldman Sachs, and HomEq and its parent company, Barclays Bank, Wednesday. ACORN said while Litton and HomEq have signed on as participants in the Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), the servicers should do more to modify mortgages faster, enact a self-imposed six month moratorium on all foreclosures and create an appeals process with mandatory mediation for borrowers who the servicers initially deem are ineligible for HAMP modifications. The events were held in Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Dallas. At the Dallas event, a group of nearly 30 people accompanied Maria Aguilar, a single mother of four who said she’s been trying to get Litton to modify her mortgage for the past year. The group, many donned in red ACORN T-shirts, attempted to go in the Goldman Sachs office located in a high rise in Dallas’ Uptown district, but were turned away by a trio of the building’s security guards when they entered the building. Armed with signs and yellow caution tape with “ACORN Foreclosure Free Zone” printed on it, the group drew attention to its cause with a number of chants outside the office — including, “Sharks bite, ACORN fights, predatory lenders: you’re not right,” “The people united, will never be divided,” and “Predatory lenders, criminal offenders,” among others. The chanting drew the attention of some employees in the office tower, who came outside to watch, as well as passing motorists, but didn’t even garner a glance from two Dallas police officers that drove by the event. At the end of the protest, the organizers again tried to enter the building to deliver half a “Thank You” cake to the Goldman office, with the promise of delivering the second half of the cake if Aguilar’s mortgage is modified. Aguilar has lived in her two-bedroom south Dallas home for three years. It was financed with an 80/20-mortgage product, the 80% loan has an 8.8% interest rate and the 20% loan has a 9% interest rate. She said she’s been asking Litton for a modification for more than a year. Aguilar got divorced in November 2008, and her hours were cut at her job at a north Dallas restaurant. Her regular monthly payment is $550, but she’s three months delinquent. Litton put her on a payment plan of $700 per month to help her get caught up, but she said she needs more help. She said she’s frustrated with Litton because they claim to not receive faxes she sends. At one point in the process of her modification application, Aguilar said Litton told her she made too much money to get a modification. Then a few months later, she received a letter saying she didn’t make enough money. HousingWire sources even say that Litton, in some case, wants thousands of dollars in fees in order to do a HAMP modification. “I just need to know what they want. What they have given to me as proof is that they don’t want to give me the modification that I need,” Aguilar told HousingWire. “I have sent everything they have asked me for, but they are never happy. It is never enough.” Aguilar added: “People should not go through all this to keep their houses, because all people who have houses go through a lot of trouble to get it, and now we’re going through the same thing to keep it. We’re paying for it, but we just need a modification because we don’t have enough to make payments with this economy.” A Goldman Sachs spokesperson declined to comment on the protests. In response to a request for comment, a Barclays spokesman issued the following statement: “HomEq is firmly committed to helping borrowers remain in their homes. Our track record clearly demonstrates that our efforts have helped thousands of homeowners avoid foreclosure. Furthermore, HomEq’s recidivism rates are tracking well below those reported by the industry at large.” Write to Austin Kilgore.

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