California man wants foreclosures deemed unconstitutional in the state
A California man is on a mission to end foreclosures across his state, claiming an outright ban on the practice would force banks to help distressed borrowers. In documents filed with California's secretary of state, Sacramento resident David Benson said he's trying to gain enough signatures – 807,615 to be exact – to get his foreclosure ban considered by voters across the state. Benson wants to amend the California constitution, making homeownership a fundamental right. His plan would require lenders to assist borrowers unable to pay for their homes due to financial distress and illness. It also would force lenders to reduce a loan's principal amount to reflect declines in property value that go beyond 10%. Benson's proposal says any "loan issued for and secured by a home or property by any lending institutions, loan servicers, mortgagee, trustees and beneficiaries doing business in the state of California, shall be able to be refinanced without credit review or penalty at minimum cost, within 45 days of being requested." That provision would automatically apply if a borrower has maintained the mortgage for at least three years. Anthony Laura, an attorney at Patton Boggs who reviewed the proposal, said the amendment "would have the opposite effect of diminishing, not enhancing, homeownership in California." "While homeownership may be part of what many consider to be the American Dream, I have a hard time conceiving it as a constitutional right. Should this proposed amendment make it on the ballot and ultimately pass, it would only serve to discourage lenders from making mortgage loans in California." Laura said without those mortgages, few people could afford homes. Write to Kerri Panchuk.