Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Big Banks Come Under Fire In Brockton--Area Protests Hit Streets In Foreclosure Fight

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON--Brockton officials are looking to drop Bank of America as one of the banks that handles the city’s financial services--a move sparked by an outcry from residents, their supporters and area public advocates who say Bank of America and other large national banks are decimating Brockton and other communities by kicking out residents instead of negotiating new mortgages to keep them in their homes.
“They not only have ripped the hearts out of us…they have ruined the basic idea of the American dream and the realization of owning a home,” said Leigh Bigger, a Brockton resident struggling to save her house from foreclosure with Bank of America, during a City Council Finance Committee meeting Monday night.
More than 40 residents and advocates attended Monday night’s meeting to express frustration and anger toward national banks like Bank of America, who they say have taken billions in taxpayer bailout money, returned to giving CEOs huge bonuses and, at the local level are punishing homeowners instead of negotiating with them and in the process have needlessly kicked people out of their homes and destroyed communities.
Advocates and residents over the last few weeks have been hitting the streets of Brockton, New Bedford, Fall River, Lawrence, Lynn and other Massachusetts cities and towns that have been hard hit by the mortgage crisis.
Brockton Interfaith Community, or BIC, has joined forces with City Life, a Boston-area advocacy group and a recently formed Brockton Bank Tenant Association to raise awareness of individual, regional and national problems associated with the mortgage crisis—a problem they say has become worse with the banks’ bailout.
A vigil was held Monday, March 12 at 267 Howard St. in support of Luckner Vernet, who has worked with a nonprofit to buy his house and then turn around and resell it to him at current market value—about $150,000 less than he bought it--and avoid foreclosure and allow him to stay in his house.
Chase Bank, who eventually bought Vernet’s mortgage from a struggling lender refuses to negotiate or help with the plan.
Vernet, who attended Monday’s finance committee meeting, said Chase will not respond to any entreaties and is moving ahead with foreclosure and plans to auction the house.
Vernet said instead, Chase intends to kick him, his wife and their two children out of the house and sell it at auction.
“They want to punish us,” Vernet said. “They won’t sell it to the non-profit who will sell it to me at a cost I can pay. They want it to be empty and ruin the neighborhood and me and my family’s life,” he said.

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