[COMM-ORG] PICO housing organizing

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Mon Dec 21 11:02:31 CST 2009


From: "PICO National Network" <news at piconetwork.org>


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2009
Contact: Adam Kruggel, CCISCO/PICO, (510) 872-3085

PICO to host Bank of America Home Mortgages President Barbara Desoer at
Public Meeting on Foreclosure Crisis
  Congregations Put Divestment on Hold to Await Results of Jan 12 Meeting

ANTIOCH, CA -- After months of grassroots activity focused on securing
a face-to-face meeting between struggling homeowners in Contra Costa
County, CA and senior executives at Bank of America, the bank's
President of Home Mortgages and Insurance Barbara Desoer has finally
agreed to meet with members of Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting
Community Organization (CCISCO) and the PICO National Network on
January 12 at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch, CA.

With only 98 permanent loan modifications nationwide out of over 1
million borrowers who qualify for the federal Making Home Affordable
program, the meeting will focus on the need for Bank of America to
swiftly increase its number of loan modifications for qualified
borrowers, as well as their broader corporate lending and investment
policies and practices.

The agreement for a meeting came shortly after St. Ignatius Catholic
Church in Antioch announced its decision to pull its money out of Bank
of America to protest their failure to keep families in their homes.  
Watch TV coverage about the church's announcement.

"The largest banks in the United States, which have a complex
system for penalizing people for submitting their mortgages just a few
minutes late, should also be able to put together a functioning plan to
help people stay in their homes and keep paying their mortgages,"
said Fr. Robert Rien, pastor of St. Ignatius Church, to a gathering of
clergy and homeowners outside a BofA branch in Antioch earlier this
week.  "We will no longer allow Bank of America to use our money
to exploit and abuse our families. We say enough is enough."

Despite being the largest holder of bad loans, Bank of America
continues to lag behind all other major national banks in offering loan
modifications to qualified borrowers.  As of November 30, only 15% of
qualified BofA borrowers received a trial loan modification, compared
to 43% for CitiMortgage and 31% for J.P. Morgan Chase.

With the January 12 meeting now pending, Fr. Rien says he will wait and
see if Bank of America holds true to the scheduled meeting before
deciding whether or not he will withdraw all $100,000 in church funds
from the bank.

On December 4, clergy and struggling homeowners from PICO affiliate
People Acting in Community Together (PACT) in San Jose, CA, also
announced their intention to divest from Bank of America unless they
begin performing more loan modifications for qualified borrowers.

Fr. Eddie Samaniego, pastor of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church,
located in the San Jose neighborhood hardest hit by foreclosures, said,
"My parish's church and school have $3 million on deposit with
Bank of America.  If we do not receive a good-faith effort from the
bank, I will recommend to our finance council that we divest and
transfer our moneys to a bank that is more honest and ethical in its
practices."

If Bank of America continues to refuse to work with families who
qualify for loan modifications, St. Ignatius Church and Most Holy
Trinity will not be the only institutions closing their accounts at
Bank of America.  CCISCO and PACT are preparing to move ahead with a
divestment campaign which has growing support from local public
officials and county representatives.

"I am also part of the Jesuit Order, the same order that owns
U.S.F., Santa Clara University, Bellarmine College Prep, St. Ignatius
College Prep, as well L.M.U., Loyola High, Jesuit High, Sacramento, and
other institutions throughout the state," continued Fr. Samaniego
at PACT's December 4 event.  "Most of them have their money in
BofA. If we do not receive a good-faith effort, I will also present a
motion to our leaders to consider divesting the hundreds of millions of
dollars on deposit, because, after all, Jesuits are about promoting a
faith that does justice, that does 'right relationship,' something BofA
has forgotten."



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