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Governor Signs Leno´s Foreclosure Prevention Bill

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The Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights, authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, has been signed by Governor Brown. Senate Bill 1150 closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide surviving family members important protections against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners. 

 

“Facing foreclosure after the loss of a loved one can be devastating,” said Senator Leno. “The governor’s approval of SB 1150 will help keep more families in their homes and reaffirms California as a nationwide leader in protecting vulnerable homeowners.”

 

While the California Homeowners’ Bill of Rights—approved by the Legislature in 2012—provided foreclosure relief for thousands of California families, the legislation did not protect surviving family members who own their homes but are not listed on the mortgage.

 

These survivors report that servicers fail to provide factual information about loan details and foreclosure avoidance programs or refuse to communicate with them. As a result, many families have experienced unnecessary foreclosures.

 

SB 1150 clarifies the responsibilities of a mortgage servicer when a borrower dies and one of the surviving homeowners wishes to assume the loan. The legislation ensures that heirs receive accurate information about loan assumption and foreclosure prevention programs.

 

It also gives survivors a single point of contact with the servicer and the ability to apply for loan assumption and modification.

 

“The American dream has turned into a nightmare for people like me,” said Kit Dillon Givas, a surviving homeowner in Sacramento. “My husband passed away in February this year. Instead of spending time to properly grieve, I’ve spent the last six months trying to get my mortgage servicer to talk to me about how to keep our home of 28 years. I thank Governor Brown for signing this bill so that other survivors like me don’t have to go through what I have.”

 

“(This) is a victory for seniors, for protecting the largest asset most of us will ever own, for stopping mortgage servicing abuses that were leading to needless foreclosures, and for stabilizing California communities. We thank the nonprofit housing counselors, attorneys and other advocates who first brought these abuses to light, who helped homeowners to keep their homes, and who supported SB 1150 throughout the legislative process. We’re also grateful to the homeowners who courageously testified about the many challenges they faced so that other survivors wouldn’t have to in the future,” said Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.

 

SB 1150 was sponsored by the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and California Reinvestment Coalition. The bill was supported by Attorney General Kamala Harris, AARP and the California District Attorneys Association, as well as a long list of civil rights, housing and labor organizations.

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Bay Area

California Moving into Next Budget Year With a $31 Billion Surplus, Analysts Say

“Under our current law and policy approach, we estimate the general fund revenue will reach $202 billion in the budget year and result in a surplus of about $31 billion for that budget year,” said Gabriel Petek, legislative analyst of the State of California, referring to LAO’s projections for fiscal year 2022-23.

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California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.
California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

California is expected to move into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022, with a whopping $31 billion surplus, according to estimates from the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

The LAO announced the anticipated surplus during a news briefing last week.

“Under our current law and policy approach, we estimate the general fund revenue will reach $202 billion in the budget year and result in a surplus of about $31 billion for that budget year,” said Gabriel Petek, legislative analyst of the State of California, referring to LAO’s projections for fiscal year 2022-23.

Petek said the large surplus reflects a number of trends. Among them are surpluses in the state current operating budget, money left in the economic reserve from the last fiscal year, higher revenues than projected for the last two years, etc.

“Revenue collections have grown rapidly in recent months, coming in over $10 billion ahead of budget act expectations so far this year. Underlying this growth is a meteoric rise in several measures of economic activity,” LAO report reads.

That windfall in the state reserve could mean a rebate for taxpayers or more money for education and other public spending.

State spending is expected to reach a cap set by California voters through a ballot measure in 1979 called the Gann Limit. When that happens, the state is compelled to return money to taxpayers by lowering taxes, sending out rebates or spending money on education.

Salena Pryor, president of the California Black Small Business Association (BSBA) says she is encouraged by the investments the state has made to aid small businesses and to improve the overall economic outlook for Californians most impacted by the pandemic.

She hopes the state will use monies from the surplus to sustain some of its initial investments.

“There is still a lot more work to do. Forty-one percent of Black small businesses have closed permanently due to COVID-19, so further investments into start-ups and restarts would greatly benefit our community,” she said.

California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.

“California has no peers – continues to have no peers. We are world-beating in terms of our economic growth,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, speaking at the California Economic Summit earlier this month.

“In the last five years, no western democracy has outperformed the state of California. The United States has not… Germany, Japan, the U.K… no other western democracy has outperformed this state in our economic output of 21% GDP over the last five years.”

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Activism

New California “Strike Force” Gives Teeth to State Housing Laws

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that California’s 17 million renters spend a significant portion of their paychecks on rent, with an estimated 700,000 Californians at risk of eviction. High home purchase costs — the median price of a single-family home in California is more than $800,000 — have led to the lowest homeownership rates since the 1940s.

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The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.
The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

To advance housing access, affordability and equity, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced earlier this month the creation of a Housing Strike Force.

The team, housed within the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ) has been tasked with enforcing California housing laws that cities across the state have been evading or ignoring.

The strike force will conduct a series of roundtables across the state to educate and involve tenants and homeowners as the state puts pressure on municipalities failing to follow housing rules and falling short of housing production goals set by the state.

“California is facing a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportion,” Bonta said. “Every day, millions of Californians worry about keeping a roof over their heads, and there are too many across this state who lack housing altogether.

“This is a top priority and a fight we won’t back down from. As Attorney General, I am committed to using all the tools my office has available to advance Californians’ fundamental right to housing.”

The Housing Strike Force will take “an innovative and intersectional approach” to addressing the housing crisis, focusing on tenant protections, housing availability and environmental sustainability, housing affordability, and equitable and fair housing opportunity for tenants and owners.

Bonta also launched a Housing Portal on the Cal DOJ’s web site with resources and information for California homeowners and tenants.

The strike force will enlist the expertise of attorneys from the Cal DOJ’s Land Use and Conservation Section, the Consumer Protection Section, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, and the Environment Section’s Bureau of Environmental Justice in its enforcement efforts.

“California has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address its housing crisis, thanks to the historic $22 billion housing and homelessness investments in this year’s budget. But it’ll only work if local governments do their part to zone and permit new housing,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “The attorney general’s emphasis on holding cities and counties accountable for fair housing, equity, and housing production is an important component to the state’s efforts to tackle the affordability crisis and create greater opportunities for all Californians to have an affordable place to call home.”

According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the level of Black ownership nationally has decreased below levels achieved during the decades when housing discrimination was legal.

The 2020 census reports that there was a 29.6% gap between homeownership rates for African Americans and whites. Homeowners accounted for 44.6% of the Black population as compared to 74.2% for whites.

“Blacks have made little, if any, strides at closing the homeownership gap. Systemic discriminatory regulations and policies continue to thwart any meaningful effort at increasing Black homeownership,” Lydia Pope, NAREB’s president, said.

In California, the DOJ reports that over the last four decades, housing needs have outpaced housing production. It has caused a crisis that stretches from homelessness to unaffordable homes.

Despite significant effort, the DOJ stated that California continues to host a disproportionate share of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, with an estimated 150,000 Californians sleeping in shelters, in their cars, or on the street.

Bonta said that California’s 17 million renters spend a significant portion of their paychecks on rent, with an estimated 700,000 Californians at risk of eviction. High home purchase costs — the median price of a single-family home in California is more than $800,000 — have led to the lowest homeownership rates since the 1940s.

Due to decades of systemic racism, these challenges have continuously and disproportionately impacted communities of color. For example, Bonta said, almost half of Black households in California spend more than 30% of their income on housing, compared with only a third of White families.

In addition, less than one in five Black California households could afford to purchase the $659,380 statewide median-priced home in 2020, compared to two in five white California households that could afford to purchase the same median-priced home, the California Association Realtors (CAR) said in a February 2021 statement.

The percentage of Black home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in 2020 was 19%, compared to 38% for white households, CAR stated.

“Just as the price for a single-median home reaches a new record of more than $800,000 in California, everywhere you look, we are in a housing crisis,” Bonta said during the virtual news conference on Nov. 3.

“Among all households, one in four renters pays more than half of their income on rent.”

The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.

Earlier this year, Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 215, enhancing the attorney general’s concurrent role in enforcing state housing laws.

AB 215 was designed for reforms, facilitating housing development and combating the current housing crisis.

Newsom also signed Senate Bill (SB) 9 and SB 10 in September, legislation designed to help increase the supply of affordable housing and speed up the production of multi-family housing units statewide.

Authored by Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), SB 9 allows a homeowner to subdivide an existing single-family residential lot to create a duplex, triplex, or fourplex.

In response to SB 9, homeowner groups have formed across the state to oppose it. The groups are citing challenges they anticipate the law will bring to their communities, from garbage collection to increased risk of fires.

Livable California, a San Francisco-based non-profit that focuses on housing, is one of the groups that opposes the new laws.

“Senate Bill 9 ends single-family zoning to allow four homes where one now stands. It was signed by Gov. Newsom, backed by 73 of 120 legislators and praised by many media. Yet a respected pollster found 71% of California voters oppose SB 9,” the Livable California website reads.

“It opens 1.12 million homes in severe fire zones to unmanaged density — one-sixth of single-family homes in California,” the message continues. “SB 9 could reshape, in unwanted ways, hundreds of high-risk fire zones that sprawl across California’s urban and rural areas.”

But Newsom says the laws are urgent and overdue.

“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” Newsom said in a Sept. 16 statement.

SB 10 was designed for jurisdictions that want to opt-in and up-zone urbanized areas close to transit, allowing up to 10 units per parcel without the oversight of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

“Passing strong housing laws is only the first step. To tackle our severe housing shortage, those laws must be consistently and vigorously enforced,” said California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), chair of the Senate Housing Committee. “I applaud Attorney General Bonta’s commitment to strong enforcement of California’s housing laws.”

The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to housing@doj.ca.gov. Information on legal aid in your area is available at https://lawhelpca.org.

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Bay Area

PRESS ROOM: San Leandro Launches Digital Gift Cards for Local Residents, Businesses  

By supporting local businesses, more money continues circulating through the local community—this is achieved through a combination of profits paid to local business owners, wages paid to local workers, goods and services procured locally for internal use or resale, and charitable giving within the community.

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Recipients pick up their Yiftee gifts using their smartphone at their favorite local restaurants and shops, driving profitable business to those merchants. For more info, see Yiftee.com or email info@yiftee.com.
Recipients pick up their Yiftee gifts using their smartphone at their favorite local restaurants and shops, driving profitable business to those merchants. For more info, see Yiftee.com or email info@yiftee.com.

New mobile gift card serves as a simple way to support San Leandro business community   

By Paul Sanftner

The City of San Leandro is proud to announce the new Keeping it Local San Leandro gift card, a community-based digital gift card that makes it fun and easy to keep local spending local.

Purchase a Keeping it Local San Leandro gift card to use at any of the participating shops in the neighborhood.

With this card, you can write a personal message and send it to family, friends and colleagues via email, text, or physical copy. Recipients can redeem gift cards at one or more of many participating merchants in San Leandro.

All-digital and always available on your phone, the Keeping it Local San Leandro gift card is great for birthdays, holidays, teacher appreciation, coach gifts, or just to show your appreciation to a friend. Now you can give back to the community while you celebrate the upcoming holidays.

As an added bonus, for a limited time, when you purchase a $25 (or more) gift card you will receive a $10 bonus gift card. If you purchase a $50 (or more) gift card, you will receive a $20 bonus gift card. If you purchase a $100 (or more) gift card you will receive a $40 bonus gift card. (Limit 2 per customer, while supplies last or until December 30, 2021).

The program is a part of San Leandro’s recovery efforts to support businesses and foster community. Support for the bonus gifts is being provided by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal recovery funds.

So far, a good variety of businesses have signed up to participate in the program, including Anytime Fitness, 21st-Amendment Brewery, As Kneaded Bakery, Sabino’s Cafe, Estudillo Produce, codeAtorium, It’s a Grind Coffee House, Inner Athlete, the Cooler, Pallen’s Martial Arts, B*Dazzled Dancers, Zocalo Coffeehouse, and Hanoi Chicken Noodle. Businesses can sign up anytime by reaching out to the City.

Why supporting local businesses is so important 

Participating in this program means supporting the heart of what makes San Leandro unique. The purchase of a Keeping It Local San Leandro gift card creates a pool of cash that local businesses in San Leandro can rely on.

Studies[1] have shown that local, independent retailers recirculate 47% of their revenue back into the community, while only 14% of national chains’ revenue stays in the community. More dramatically, restaurants recirculate 73% of their revenue back into the community, versus only 30% for national chains.

By supporting local businesses, more money continues circulating through the local community—this is achieved through a combination of profits paid to local business owners, wages paid to local workers, goods and services procured locally for internal use or resale, and charitable giving within the community.

If you’re looking for a way to do some good or want to know how you can help the community you love, send a Keeping it Local San Leandro gift card today! For more information or to participate as a merchant in the program, please contact the City of San Leandro: slnext@sanleandro.org.

About Yiftee 

Yiftee (Yiftee.com) is the award-winning, no hassle eGift card and promotions solution for local businesses and communities. With no special technology or POS integration, no revenue-share and no special accounting, it’s easy for merchants to offer eGift Cards on their website and Facebook pages.

Merchants gain additional sales, foot traffic, and an eGifting capability like big retailers. Consumers, corporations, and merchants use the Yiftee mobile and online website to send thoughtful, unexpected gifts via email, text or print.

Recipients pick up their Yiftee gifts using their smartphone at their favorite local restaurants and shops, driving profitable business to those merchants. For more info, see Yiftee.com or email info@yiftee.com.

Paul Sanftner is the communications and community relations manager in San Leandro’s City Manager’s Office.

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