California Reinvestment Coalition Goes to Washington

Last week, members of the California Reinvestment Coalition traveled to Washington, DC, for the annual National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference.  The theme this year was “Creating a Just Economy.”

Keynote speakers during the conference included Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, CFPB Director Richard Cordray, Representative Maxine Waters who is Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Comptroller Thomas Curry, Senator Sherrod Brown who is Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, Mark Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, and John Taylor, president and CEO of NCRC.

There were a number of sessions focused on reinvestment, affordable housing, small business lending, home ownership, gentrification, economic development, CDFIs, community health benefit agreements, fintech, rural development, fair housing, the racial wealth gap, the Community Reinvestment Act, redlining, and more, including a session entitled “Defending the CFPB” that Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of CRC, moderated.

In addition to attending the conference, CRC members also met with members of the California Congressional delegation and with bank regulators and their staff as well.  During the meetings, CRC members shared what they are seeing from their work in communities, specifically around issues related to small business lending, affordable housing and economic development.

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The president’s so-called “skinny budget” proposal was one of several topics covered at the meetings, and more background about the additional issues is included below.

Program/Department

Budget Proposal Impact on California

HUD Budget 

Eliminates CDBG, reductions for key programs serving renters Loss of $357 million in CDBG funds for CA cities;

$130 million in HOME funds for new affordable housing; Thousands of tenants to lose rental assistance vouchers;

More costs for Medicaid as seniors move to nursing homes w/o Meals on Wheels;

Increased homelessness;

CDFI Fund

Eliminated

Fewer loans, less support for Small Biz Owners. There are 86 CDFIs in CA that made 39,000+ loans in FY 2016.

Legal Services Corporation

Eliminated

11 CA orgs. receive funding through LSC.

Small Business Administration

Prime program defunded; Microloan program frozen Less financing available for CA small businesses.

NeighborWorks

Eliminated

Will harm efforts at building assets, including for 1st time homebuyers, also negative impacts for affordable housing.
AmeriCorps Eliminated

Work on tax returns, literacy, emergency response, health, and economic development.

 

Community Reinvestment Act

This year, CRA celebrates its 40th anniversary. Because of the CRA, financial institutions are helping to meet important community credit needs and building consumer and community wealth, through small business lending, mortgage lending, affordable housing finance, community development activity and bank branch and account access.

  • California Reinvestment Coalition members and other community groups have recently negotiated win-win community commitments with a number of banks, including City National, Bank of Hope, Cathay Bank and Mechanics Bank.
  • But bank regulators need to be more rigorous and timely in their CRA and Fair Lending examinations of banks. Wells Fargo had not had a CRA rating made public in 9 years, and several banks, such as BancorpSouth and Evans Bank that received Satisfactory CRA ratings were later sued for redlining.
  • Regulators should encourage banks to develop Community Benefit Plan agreements with local community groups, and incorporate these agreements into any bank merger approval and subsequent CRA exams.
  • Regulators should also provide CRA downgrades to institutions that engage in discriminatory, unfair, or deceptive practices, or that finance the direct or indirect displacement of low and moderate income people and communities of color, or that finance lenders who make predatory loans in these communities. Banks must diversify management and staff, and develop robust supplier diversity programs.


Rural Communities

Rural communities in California face unique and significant challenges. Banks are well placed to help local communities develop and grow through home mortgage and small business lending, affordable housing investments and low cost accounts.

  • But nonprofit groups and even some banks report that banks only lend and invest in geographic areas that are subject to “full scope” regulatory review (via CRA exams),  that tend to focus on larger, urban areas, especially for the largest banks.
  • Bank regulators should expand the number of full scope areas for banks that are among the biggest depositories and lenders in smaller, rural communities. Branch closings, especially in rural areas, are also effectively limiting access to banking for consumers.

Protect CFPB

The Dodd Frank Act and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are the most effective and publicly popular responses to the financial crisis.

  • The CFPB has secured over $12 billion in consumer relief, more than all of the other, relevant federal agencies combined.
  • The CFPB developed common sense rules that brought order and transparency to mortgages (Qualified Mortgage and QRM rules, home loan modifications (servicing rules, including successors in interest protections), and the collection of home loan data (HMDA rule).
  • Additionally, CFPB enforcement actions have protected consumers and communities from unlawful lending discrimination and unfair and deceptive practices.
  • Importantly, over 1 million consumers (including over 118,000 Californians) have already taken advantage of the CFPB’s user-friendly consumer complaint database to file complaints -some telling their stories – to seek relief but also to inform other consumers and CFPB enforcement officers about problematic practices and actors.
  • The CFPB’s Director, structure and authority must be vigorously protected.
  • Important CFPB rules on payday lending, prepaid cards, mandatory arbitration, debt collection and small business loan data must be finalized and protected from repeal.
  • We also support the CFPB’s work on issues that have important impacts on consumers, ranging from student loans to credit reporting agencies to financing for cars.

Small Business Lending

  • Small business lending has increased since Dodd Frank Act, not decreased as some Dodd Frank critics have suggested. But small business loans are still less available in LMI neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color
  • And many small business owners looking for credit from banks are relegated to higher cost and variable rate credit cards, not term loans.
  • 95% of the small business loans in CA from JPMorgan Chase Bank are credit card loans. While credit cards serve a purpose, they can come with higher costs, variable rates and are not well suited for the longer term capital needs that many businesses have.
  • Dodd Frank Section 1071 data would bring much needed transparency into who is receiving small business loans- and who is not. In the same way that HMDA data created greater transparency in the home lending market, 1071 small business data will shed light on small business lending trends, highlight disparities, and likely lead to increased lending.
  • Fintech, online, and marketplace lenders can present opportunity, but some are clearly also creating harm. CDFIs and community lenders are spending precious capital and staff time refinancing small business owners out of predatory fintech loans and merchant cash advances.
  • An Opportunity Fund analysis of 150 “alternative loans” found an average APR of 94%, and among Hispanic borrowers, the average monthly payment was more than 400% of take-home pay.
  • Advocates are concerned about a weakening of consumer protection under any OCC national fintech charter which will lead to preemption of state laws, and are concerned that the OCC has not shown itself to be a strong bank regulator (see, Wells Fargo).
  • We join Congressman Cleaver in raising concerns that fintech lenders are violating fair lending laws by not making good credit available to neighborhoods of color, that fintech algorithms may be biased, and that predatory fintech loans are destabilizing small business owned by women and people of color. The CFPB and other agencies must vigorously enforce fair lending laws against predatory and discriminatory fintech lenders. Bank partnerships with fintech lenders must be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure fair lending and consumer protection laws are followed
  • In addition to bank and fintech loans, small businesses are vulnerable to high cost products like Merchant Cash Advance and installment loans that can financially sink business owners instead of helping them.

Homeownership

Home loans are hard to come by in neighborhoods of color. Banks are increasingly focused on making jumbo loans which disproportionately benefit white borrowers, while making fewer loans to Latino and African American borrowers, and abandoning FHA loans in favor of their own, unproven products, with less than impressive results.

  • Any future GSE reform must maintain a duty to serve communities and retain affordable housing goals. Currently, Fannie and Freddie need to be held accountable to meeting ambitious affordable housing goals, and should offer more flexible products to qualified homeowners.
  • We are concerned about a return to redlining, and hope to see DOJ, CFPB and HUD continue their important work in enforcing fair housing and fair lending laws.
  • HUD is currently investigating CRC’s first HUD redlining complaint (more information and graphs below), filed against OneWest Bank for having few branches and making few home loans in neighborhoods of color in six Southern California counties.
  • Given our aging population, increased oversight is needed in the reverse mortgage market to ensure that seniors are not taken advantage of by loan originators and servicers.
  • CRC is deeply concerned that seniors are continuing to lose their homes unnecessarily due to servicer bureaucracy, a lack of strong oversight of this industry by HUD, and a very limited infrastructure to help seniors and their families avoid needless foreclosures.  The elimination of funding for Legal Aid organizations will exacerbate this problem.

Affordable Rental Housing

California continues to suffer from an affordable housing crisis. The California Housing Partnership Corporation estimates that California needs 1.5 million affordable homes to accommodate the state’s lowest income residents.

  • Any HUD budgets cuts to key programs such as HOME, CDBG, Rental Assistance and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, could be devastating.
  • California nonprofit housing developers report that many investors, including banks subject to the Community Reinvestment Act, are pulling back from existing commitments in tax credit deals and attempting to renegotiate terms in light of pending tax reform. The result is fewer units produced and more subsidy coughed up at the 11th hour by desperate nonprofits who then must forego developer fees, and local governments which must contribute additional, unplanned subsidies.
  • Banks should receive CRA rating downgrades for such behavior as well as for seeking community development lending credit for loans that foreseeably lead to displacement of low and moderate income residents the CRA was meant to benefit.
  • CRC is deeply concerned about Fannie Mae’s recent commitment to guarantee up to $1 billion in debt backed by single family rental homes owned by private equity giant Blackstone.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must continue to invest in the National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund.
  • Importantly, HUD must continue to implement Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing obligations and assist local jurisdictions in meeting critical housing needs, fighting displacement and creating access to areas of opportunity for all.

Immigrant Access

The current political environment, with its changing policies and harsh rhetoric is threatening to drive immigrant communities out of the country, or out of sight. A recent CRC survey of confirms that many of our organizational members are seeing clients go underground, fail to show up for jobs, and forego access to needed services because they are concerned about ICE.

  • Bank regulators and banks should work together to clarify and simplify the privacy data rights of immigrants so they will not fear that banks will share their private data with the government.
  • Banks should also be encouraged to lend directly to qualified immigrant homeowners and small business owners who may have ITIN numbers, as well as invest in CDFIs and community lenders that make such loans.
  • For banks serving large immigrant populations, they should consider what information may be helpful to share with their customers about power of attorney and other bank access issues should a household member face deportation.

Payday lending

Payday lending continues to be a scourge on working families, charging 400% APR for short term loans that trap unsuspecting consumers in cycles of debt.

  • The CFPB has designed well considered and reasonable rules to protect consumers against abuses.
  • Federal intervention is needed as payday lenders and lobbyists have a stranglehold in Sacramento.
  • Banks should be incentivized to continue to develop small dollar alternatives to such products and to assist CDFIs and other community lenders that seek to fill this niche, and should also be penalized in their CRA exams for any financing to high-cost, predatory lenders.

Overdraft

According to the CFPB, the majority of overdrafts are on transactions of $24 or less and are repaid within 3 days or less. The CFPB calculated that with a median overdraft fee of $34, this is equivalent to a loan with a 17,000 APR.

  • It is telling that payday lenders defend their triple digit APR loans by saying consumers are merely making informed decisions to take out payday loans because they are less expensive than overdraft fees.
  • Banks continue to overly rely on overdraft fees as a source of fee revenue, to the detriment of their clients. CFPB rules on abusive overdraft policies are important, and all regulators should independently examine the impact of overdraft on bank customers, and work with their banks to end this product.

 

More on CRC’s Redlining Complaint Against CIT Group

Redlining Complaint Against OneWest Bank filed by California Reinvestment Coalition

Mortgage lending in 2015 (CRC)

The complaint alleges that OneWest Bank’s lending to borrowers in communities of color is low in absolute terms, low compared to its peer banks, and is lower than one would expect, given the size of the Asian, African American and Latino populations in Southern California.

Branch locations OWB

As part of the complaint, an analysis of the bank’s assessment areas found that OneWest has only 1 branch in an Asian majority census tract, no branches in African American majority census tracts, and 11 branches in Hispanic majority census tracts.

Branches in Asian, African American, and Hispanic majority trats (OWB)

While OneWest’s foreclosure record is not part of the redlining complaint, analysis by CRC and Urban Strategies Council found that OneWest was nine times as likely to foreclose in communities of color as compared to extending mortgage loans in communities of color.

OWB foreclosures vs originations

How Much Money Does Wall Street Spend on Lobbying and Campaign Contributions?

occupy-wall-street-political-cartoon-lobbyists

Political cartoon by Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

A new report from Americans for Financial Reform provides a troubling window into the amount of cash pouring into Congress from Wall Street since the 2008 crisis -it’s over $2.7 million a day, and more than $3.7 million per member of Congress!

Wall Street Money in Washington,” is a 62-page examination of political spending, draws on a special data set compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics for AFR in order to provide a more precise look at financial industry spending than is otherwise possible.

Campaign Contributions: $1.2 billion. Individuals and entities associated with financial reported making $1,201,417,199 in contributions to federal candidates for office during this election cycle. The financial sector’s contributions were almost twice that of any other specific business sector identified in the data. Of the $688,150,613 in party-coded contributions by PACs and individuals associated with finance, 55% went to Republicans and 45% went to Democrats.

Five U.S. Senators and two House members were among the biggest Congressional recipients of financial sector contributions. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) topped this list with $8,687,969. The other senators were Ted Cruz (R-TX), with $5,482,011; Charles Schumer (D-NY), with $5,345,563; Rob Portman (R-OH), with $4,158,259; Pat Toomey (R-PA). Members of the House of Representatives were led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), with $5,727,069; and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with $3,397,980.

Lobbying: $898 million. The financial industry reported spending a total of $897,949,264 on lobbying in 2015 and 2016. This puts the sector in – close – third place, behind the Health sector, which spent $1,022,907,176, and a category of “Miscellaneous Business,” a sector that that itself probably includes some Wall Street lobbying by business groups with a broader focus than only finance.

Since 2008, the financial services industry has spent more money on contributions and lobbying than it did before the crisis, and the total in this cycle is the highest yet. 

“The entire apparatus of government operates in an environment flooded with millions of dollars in Wall Street cash on a daily basis,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “If you want to understand why finance too often hurts consumers, investors and businesses far from Wall Street, take a look at these numbers.”

You can read the whole report on the Americans for Financial Reform website. 

 

California Reinvestment Coalition comments on CITNA Bank Community Reinvestment

Editor’s note: Earlier this month, CRC submitted the following letter as part of CITNA Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act exam.  For more information on CRC’s concerns with OneWest’s and CIT Bank’s reinvestment histories, visit www.badbankmerger.com.

November 16, 2015

Assistant Deputy Comptroller Robert Phelps
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Chicago Midsize Office
1 South Wacker Drive Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606

Cindy Tran
CRA Officer
CITBNA, N.A.
888 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

Re:       CRC comments regarding CITBNA CRA and Fair Lending Examination

Dear Mr. Phelps and Ms. Tran,

The California Reinvestment Coalition submits these comments on CIT Bank’s (CITBNA) CRA performance in California. We request that these comments be considered as part of the OCC’s current CRA and fair lending examination of CITBNA. We further request that these comments be placed in CITBNA’s Public CRA File.

The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), based in San Francisco, is a nonprofit membership organization of nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the state of California. We work with community-based organizations to promote the economic revitalization of California’s low-income communities and communities of color through access to financial institutions. CRC promotes increased access to credit for affordable housing and economic development for these communities.

On the heels of a contentious bank merger process that revealed multiple CRA and fair lending concerns raised by a large number of organizations and individuals, we urge the OCC to:

Consider the Extensive Record from the Merger Process

We opposed the Bank’s recent merger in what was one of the most protested bank mergers in recent history. Over 21,000 individuals and over 100 organizations registered concerns. The OCC and the Federal Reserve held a rare public hearing at which a large number of organizations and consumers testified to certain CRA weaknesses and consumer protection failures of the Bank, while also raising a number of fair housing and fair lending concerns.

There were a number of compelling stories of abuse recounted by OneWest and Financial Freedom customers and their families, and a number of compelling stories offered by community development practitioners in the Bank’s assessment area, documenting and lamenting the Bank’s poor CRA performance. We understand that all of relevant information, testimony, comment letters and other evidence presented during the merger process will be considered as part of this exam.

CRC hereby resubmits our eighth comment letter on the merger, attached, which calls for a fair lending investigation into evidence of disparities in the Bank’s foreclosure, lending, branch, REO property maintenance, and reverse mortgage servicing practices. Prior letters raised numerous concerns about the Bank’s poor reinvestment record, its weak reinvestment commitments, and its problematic compliance with consumer protection laws and regulations. We appreciate that the OCC will consider all of these comments, and those of all commenters, during this examination process.

In fact, the OCC conditional approval order suggested that a number of issues raised during the merger were better addressed during the CRA and fair lending examinations of the Bank. In discussing concerns about OneWest Bank’s foreclosure and REO property maintenance practices, the OCC notes it will “continue to assess potential discrimination as part of its supervisory process.”[1] Pursuant to 12 CFR 25.28(c), the results of the OCC’s evaluation of a bank’s CRA performance may be adversely affected by evidence of discriminatory or other illegal credit practices. In that regard, we note the most recently published CRA Evaluation of Bank of America which resulted in a lower CRA Rating for Bank of America in light of fair lending and credit practices concerns and settlements.[2]

Scrutinize and Investigate Questionable Letters of “Support”

While we certainly agree that the OCC should consider all public comments submitted during the merger process, including those of bank supporters and positive comments about the Bank’s performance, we urge the OCC to scrutinize those emails resulting from the Bank’s solicitation of support letters for the merger via its website, which resulted in several form letters being submitted. The OCC on the 2nd page of its merger approval order notes, “Approximately 1,700 of the letters resulted from an email campaign initiated by CITG and OWB seeking support for the merger.”[3]

Yet, as CRC has noted previously, we have come to understand that a number of these alleged “supporters” may not have supported the merger at all, and we are very much concerned about the prospect that the public comment process was manipulated and that certain “letters of support” were fraudulent.

Early on, CRC did notice certain irregularities in the email addresses expressing support for the Bank. Then CRC received a disturbing email on September 21, 2015. An individual, apparently under the misunderstanding that CRC supported this merger, expressed dismay that a letter of support for the OneWest CIT Bank merger was sent to the regulators in his name. He decried the “bogus email” support letter, and noted it “is not mine and I did not authorize or send this email, and I did not authorize for you to use my name and address to be used for any support of One West and CIT Merger, I have no affiliation or whatsoever to this companies and would like you to stop using my name, address or email address…”

Most troubling, the individual indicates that somebody created a yahoo email address using his full name, without his knowledge. It appears that this same email was also sent to the OCC and the Federal Reserve Board. It is unclear what steps if any the OCC and the Federal Reserve plan to take in response to this email.

This email is shocking and suggests that one or more people may have manipulated the public comment process and committed a fraud on the federal regulatory agencies which rely on public input to inform their deliberations.  In follow up “spot checks” of about 150 email addresses attributed to the petition organized by OneWest’s CEO, at least 25 of the email addresses appear to be non-existent.

In an attachment of 593 petitions in support of OneWest’s call to not hold a public hearing, posted on the Federal Reserve’s website, 100% of the petition signers had Yahoo email accounts- an oddity that adds to our concerns (Yahoo has, approximately, a 3% market share for email accounts).  We further understand that when an email was sent to these individual email addresses, 30%, or 180 of the 593 emails, bounced back, and for the handful of people who replied to the email, some may have indicated that they actually had not supported the merger as their “petitions” purportedly suggested.

Moreover, if the “time stamps” on the emails are accurate, there was an extremely large number of people who cared enough about this merger to sign onto their computers in the middle of the night- with a large number of emails being sent to the Federal Reserve and OCC around 2am on the night of February 13, 2015.

It occurs to us that it is only happenstance that the individual noted above discovered that his name was used improperly and fraudulently, and that it is not to be expected that this information would have ever found its way to us or to the regulators. In other words, if other people had their names used without their authorization, and if unauthorized Yahoo email accounts were created on their behalf, this fraud may have gone undetected. There is no reasonable explanation for all of these oddities occurring relating to “support” letters sent via the Bank’s website.

We accuse no specific person or organization of wrongdoing. But at the same time we are greatly disturbed at the possibility that the OCC and the Federal Reserve community input process may have been compromised. The CRA is a law that allows for and encourages community participation and in so doing, allows for a community perspective to be considered by regulators as they determine how best to supervise, regulate and oversee financial institutions.

We urge the OCC and the Federal Reserve to investigate this matter further, and we would hope that CITBNA would likewise be interested in helping regulators get to the bottom of this. How many letters of support were submitted to the regulators without the knowledge of the purported author? Who is responsible? And what are the regulators going to do about it in order to send the message that manipulating a public process is a serious offense, and to ensure this does not happen again?

Do the Federal Reserve and OCC public comment email systems (and OWB website) have safeguards to “catch” such oddities?  A similar issue occurred in the recent “net neutrality” debate, and the system used to process Congress’ email was able to catch fraudulent emails.

Consider New CRA Performance Data for CITBNA Which Shows Continuing Problems

New data made public and analyzed after the conditional merger approval order further demonstrate that CITBNA (CIT and OWB) has not been meeting community credit needs.

Philanthropy. As one example, according to the OCC’s conditional approval order, the level of OWB CRA qualifying contributions in its assessment areas since its last Performance Evaluation appears to have gone done for each of the last 4 years:

  • $1,675,500 in 2012;
  • $1,127,900 in 2013;
  • $1,054,000 in 2014; and
  • $302,000 as of May 2015.[4]

CITBNA apparently commits to increase the size of annual contributions to $5 million per year, which is positive. Yet, given the Bank’s presence and size in California and data received from 17 California banks, we estimate that 12 or 13 other banks devote a higher percentage of their deposits for CRA purposes than will CITBNA under its new CRA commitment. Again, CITBNA lags its peers.

CRC urges all banks to devote at least .025% of California deposits towards philanthropy in California, and that 50% of all contributions should support critical housing and economic development activities. OWB’s past performance and CITBNA’s most recent commitments do not suggest it will meet these benchmarks.

Affordable Housing. CITBNA has identified affordable housing as a priority need in its assessment area. Yet the Bank notes that “mortgage lending will not be the primary focus of CITBNA,” that Low Income Housing Tax Credits “will not be appropriate investments for CITBNA,” and that “multifamily lending historically has not been a key part of its loan origination strategy.”[5] Which leads one to wonder how CITBNA plans to address the critical community need it has identified. The Bank noted that it originated $89 million in CRA-qualifying multifamily loans in LMI census tracts since its inception, but it does not specify whether these loans would qualify as Community Development loans for CRA purposes, and whether these loans financed the development or preservation of deed restricted affordable housing (see below for a further illustration of how multifamily lending does not allows help, and can actually harm, low income communities).[6] We trust this information will be forthcoming in the bank’s CRA exam results.

Community Development. We urge the OCC to continue to scrutinize activities for which the Bank seeks community development credit. We note again that one of the Bank’s Responses to an Additional Information Request during the merger process revealed that OneWest overstated its community development loan activity by a whopping $75 million in an October 30, 2014 letter and had to revise and reduce its projections based on feedback from its regulator. The record should be clear as to what kinds of lending OneWest improperly sought to classify as community development lending, and more information should be provided on what kinds of loans OneWest still counts as “community development lending.”

Relatedly, CRC recently became aware that certain other banks (not necessarily OWB or CITBNA) were seeking CRA community development credit for loans made to investors to purchase small, Rent Controlled buildings in LMI tracts, without the regulator (or perhaps the lenders) knowing that the investor purchasers plans were to evict all of the tenants (mostly seniors, low income, long term, and often, of color) and to convert the low cost rental housing into expensive homeownership Tenancies in Common. Regulators must scrutinize purported community development lending and investments to ensure that these activities actually benefit communities.

Additionally, the Bank in its Draft CIT Bank, NA Community Benefits Plan sets an investment goal that is opaque, in that it targets investments to 8% of Tier 1 Deployed Capital. CRC urges all institutions to devote at least .25% of California deposits for community development investments each year. Additionally, CITBNA should not rely on Mortgage Backed Securities to meet its community development investment targets, as MBS are generally not impactful or value added for community development activities.

Home Lending. In 2014, OneWest appears to have originated only 102 first lien, home purchase or refinance loans in California. Of these 102 loans:

  • Only 1 was originated to an African American borrower
  • Only 6 were originated to Asian borrowers
  • Only 7 were originated to Latino borrowers
  • Only 14 loans were originated to LMI borrowers, compared to 77 to upper income borrowers
  • Only 38 loans were originated in neighborhoods of color, which is not impressive for a bank with an assessment area focused around Los Angeles
  • Only 6 loans were originated in LMI neighborhoods.

These home lending numbers are very low in terms of overall home lending originated to California homeowners and homebuyers, and also well below the proportional lending by the industry as a whole in California. For all HMDA reporters in 2014 in California, lending to:

  • African American borrowers comprised 2.8% of all loans, compared to 1% for OWB
  • Asian borrowers comprised 13.5%, compared to 6% for OWB
  • Latino borrowers comprised 16.8%, compared to 7% for OWB
  • Neighborhoods of color comprised 47%, compared to 38% for OWB
  • LMI neighborhoods comprised 16%, compared to 6% for OWB.

The Bank only approximated the industry benchmark for lending to LMI borrowers, at 14% of all loans. Yet the industry as a whole doubled CITBNA’s proportional lending to African American, Asian American, and Latino borrowers, as well as to Low and Moderate Income neighborhoods, raising both fair lending and CRA concerns.

Small Business Lending. For small business lending, OneWest appears to have originated only 70 CRA reportable loans in 2014 in California, down from 88 loans in 2013:

  • Only 1 of these loans was in an amount less than $100,000
  • Only 10 of these loans were in amounts of $100,000 to $250,000
  • Fully 59 of these loans were in amounts over $250,000
  • Only 26 loans, or 37% of “small business” loans, were made to smaller businesses with less than $1 million in revenue.

For CIT small business lending in 2014, the Bank originated 448 small business loans in California, offering loans in lower loan sizes (this is positive), but not to smaller businesses (this is not positive):

  • 291 of these loans were in amounts less than $100,000
  • 126 loans were in amounts between $100,000 and $250,000
  • 31 loans were in amounts over $250,000
  • Yet zero of these “small business” loans were to small businesses with under $1 million in gross revenue.

Of 518 CRA reportable small business loans in 2014 from OWB and CIT, only 26 loans, or a paltry 5%, were to smaller businesses, those with less than $1 million in revenue. CRC urges all institutions to strive for fully 50% of all small business lending to be for businesses with under $1 million in revenue.

Branches and deposits. According to publicly available branch and deposit data analyzed via the CRA Wiz program for 2014:

  • Of 74 CITBNA California branches, only 8, or 10.8% of branches were in LMI neighborhoods. This is even less than the low percentages discussed during the merger. Perhaps this reflects a lag in data reporting, and the actual proportion of branches in LMI neighborhoods is slightly higher. Regardless, the industry in California has roughly twice the proportion of branches in LMI communities than does CITBNA.
  • Of 74 CITBNA California branches, only 31, or 42% of branches are in neighborhoods of color, even though 57% of deposits derive from neighborhoods of color.

Taken together, the data do not reflect the performance of a Bank that is helping to meet community credit needs: almost no home lending to LMI borrowers and neighborhoods, miniscule small business lending to smaller businesses, no multifamily loan products, plans to reduce investments in Low Income Housing Tax Credits which help finance affordable housing development, decreasing philanthropy through May of 2015, low branch presence in LMI communities (even compared to peers), but continuing foreclosures and fair lending concerns.

Consider the Large Number of Consumer Complaints That Have Been Filed Against CITBNA

One important measure of how well a Bank is meeting community credit needs can be found in consumer complaint data. The CFPB Consumer Complaint Database represents a primary, accessible, uniform way in which consumers can express their concerns about bank performance.

A review of the CFPB database reveals that nearly 1,400 complaints have been filed by consumers with the CFPB against CITBNA (CIT and OWB) since December 2011. Most of these complaints (90%, or 1,270 complaints) are related to CITBNA’s “Mortgage” products; of which 209 are related to “reverse mortgages.”  It appears that over 50 reverse mortgage complaints have been filed with the CFPB against OWB and CITBNA in 2015, since the CFPB’s initial data reporting of complaints through 2014.

CRC has filed a lawsuit challenging HUD’s denial of our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fee waiver request in which we are seeking additional information about the number of complaints filed with HUD against OneWest relating to its reverse mortgage servicing performance, and we will be happy to share this data if we prevail in obtaining this information.

During the merger process, the FRB, via an Additional Information Request, sought data from the Bank about complaints it had received directly from consumers. The Bank reported receiving directly an astonishing 812 complaints, even though the Bank chose to report on complaints received only AFTER it sold most of its servicing rights. The OCC should determine the number of complaints received directly by the Bank during the time frame covered by this exam, and make that information part of the record and its deliberations as to whether the Bank has been meeting community credit needs.

The large number of complaints filed with the CFPB, as well as the number of complaints filed with the OCC and CITBNA directly, should be reflected in the Bank’s CRA Performance Evaluation. As we have urged with PEs of other banks, the OCC should confirm in CITBNA’s Performance Evaluation the number, nature and disposition of OCC complaints.

Further, the OCC, through this examination process and its other supervisory powers, must ensure that CITBNA and its affiliates are complying with fair housing, fair lending, and consumer protection laws, including the California Homeowner Bill of Rights and HUD HECM regulations such as Mortgagee Letter 2015-15 regarding Non Borrowing Spouses.

Consider the Harm Imposed on Communities by CITBNA

Past foreclosures. During the merger process, CRC and many other commenters pointed to the harm imposed by OWB on California communities as a result of 36,000 foreclosures, including 2,000 on reverse mortgage seniors, widows and their families.

Future foreclosures. And yet we know that CITBNA will be foreclosing on numerous additional families. A Freedom of Information Act request to the FDIC by CRC yielded the astonishing confirmation that the FDIC has paid over $1 billion to OWB under the loss share agreement to reimburse OWB for the costs of foreclosure, consistent with the agreement. But we also learned that the FDIC estimates another $1.4 billion in additional loss share payments will yet be made to CITBNA, presumably to reimburse the Bank for the costs of more than 36,000 additional foreclosures in California and untold numbers nationally.

Failure to repay $2.3 Billion in TARP. Additionally, we note once again the harm caused to U.S. Taxpayers by CIT Group in taking $2.3 billion in TARP funds, before declaring bankruptcy and wiping out its obligation to repay this money.

Reducing federal tax liability. Adding insult to injury, comments by CIT Group executives to investors suggest that the Bank intends to use its Net Operating Losses from the bankruptcy to offset expected profits from the recent merger in order to significantly reduce its federal tax obligations in ensuing years.

Reverse mortgage concerns and Non Borrowing Spouses. And of course, we reiterate concerns about potential servicing violations suffered by reverse mortgage borrowers, Non Borrowing Spouses (widows and widowers), and their families, as testified to and commented on as part of the merger process. We urge the OCC (and HUD) to closely monitor the Bank’s implementation of, and compliance with, HUD Mortgagee Letter 2015-15.

Evading HBOR accountability. We again call on the OCC to clarify that CITBNA should not invoke preemption as a way to evade accountability for alleged violations of California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights which is meant to protect residents of the Bank’s CRA assessment area from unlawful and unnecessary foreclosures. Avoiding responsibility and accountability in this way harms LMI communities and borrowers and leads to lost assets.

Confirm That the Bank Needs to Develop a Stronger CRA Plan

The Bank submitted a DRAFT CRA Plan in advance of the February 26 merger hearing. Indications from the Bank’s Community Needs Survey and the Community Day event held on October 6, 2015, suggest the Bank is NOT increasing its overall commitment of $5 billion in CRA activity over 4 years.

Under the conditional approval order, the Bank was supposed to have submitted its revised CRA Plan to the OCC on October 19, 2015. This plan has not been made public, though at the Community Day event the Bank indicated it would share with the public the revised CRA Plan, as well as that day’s power point presentation, if advised to do so by its newly formed Community Advisory Board. Presumably, either the Bank did not seek input from the CAB, the Bank did not heed the counsel of the CAB, or the CAB did not urge the Bank to be transparent with its CRA Plan.

If it is true that the Bank’s revised Plan is substantially the same as its draft Plan in terms of overall commitment, the Bank’s CRA Plan will be roughly ¼ the size of the CRA commitment of a much smaller (and younger) Banc of California, and roughly ½ the size of the CRA commitment of CITBNA’s peer, City National Bank, which despite having fewer deposits in California, committed to $11 billion in CRA activity over 5 years.

In any event, CITBNA’s performance in 2014 and going forward would leave it amongst the worst performing CRA banks in California, based on data received and analyzed by CRC. CRC and its members utilize a set of benchmarks to determine how well a bank is meeting community credit needs. Banks can demonstrate their performance in two ways: by 1) entering into a Community Benefits and Reinvestment Plan that specifies in a clear and transparent manner the bank’s CRA goals over a multi-year period; and 2) providing clear data on the bank’s CRA performance.

Of seventeen (17) California banks which 2014 data, information and reinvestment commitments we reviewed and analyzed, CITBNA would rank BELOW 12 of these institutions in terms of annual percentage of deposits committed to CRA purposes, using estimates from CITBNA’s draft CRA commitment. Of the 5 banks which currently appear to devote less of their proportional deposits for community reinvestment on an annual basis, 3 have not yet provided all of their data and could very well leapfrog CITBNA, moving CITBNA further down the list of reinvestment banks in California.

And this analysis considers 2014 actual performance by the other banks compared to future commitments by CITBNA. So, the few banks who did less in 2014 than CITBNA proposes to do in 2016, may yet exceed CITBNA’s actual CRA performance in 2016 and beyond. CITBNA did not provide data to CRC this year (for 2014 performance) or last year (for 2013 performance).

Conclusion

CITBNA’s overall performance in California Needs to Improve, and that is the CRA rating the Bank deserves. Given the size and reach of CITBNA, and the harm it has caused to communities via thousands of foreclosures and weak reinvestment, CITBNA has not met community credit needs. CITBNA now has an opportunity to turn the page, enhance its CRA Plan and be a constructive force for positive neighborhood revitalization and wealth accumulation for Southern California’s LMI communities and communities of color. But it should not be rewarded for poorly serving and failing to adequately commit to these communities. The Banks’ CRA Rating should reflect poor CRA performance, as well as any fair lending or fair housing violations established.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. If you have any questions, you can reach me at (415) 864-3980.

Very Truly Yours,

Kevin Stein

Associate Director

Encl:    CRC’s 8th Comment Letter in Opposition to CIT/OWB merger

Cc:       Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller, OCC

Janet Yellen, Chair, Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Richard Cordray, Director, CFPB

Patrice Ficklin, CFPB

Barry Wides, Deputy Comptroller, OCC

Beth Castro, OCC Community Affairs

[1] Stephen A. Lybarger, OCC Conditional Approval, Letter to Joseph M. Otting Re: Application to Merge CIT Bank, Salt Lake City, UT with and into OneWest Bank, N.A., Pasadena, CA and Request for Waiver of Residency Requirement; OCC Control Numbers: 2014-WE-Combination-139872 and 2015-WE-DirectorWaiver-141909, July 21, 2015, p. 36, footnote 1, p. 37, footnote 73.

[2] Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, PUBLIC DISCLOSURE COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT PERFORMANCE EVALUATION Bank of America, N.A., Charter Number:  13044, 100 North Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202m December 31, 2011, available at: http://www.occ.gov/static/cra/craeval/oct14/13044.pdf (see page 14, Fair Lending or Other Illegal Credit Practices Review).

[3] Stephen A. Lybarger, OCC Conditional Approval, Letter to Joseph M. Otting Re: Application to Merge CIT Bank, Salt Lake City, UT with and into OneWest Bank, N.A., Pasadena, CA and Request for Waiver of Residency Requirement; OCC Control Numbers: 2014-WE-Combination-139872 and 2015-WE-DirectorWaiver-141909, July 21, 2015, p. 2.

[4] Stephen A. Lybarger, OCC Conditional Approval, Letter to Joseph M. Otting Re: Application to Merge CIT Bank, Salt Lake City, UT with and into OneWest Bank, N.A., Pasadena, CA and Request for Waiver of Residency Requirement; OCC Control Numbers: 2014-WE-Combination-139872 and 2015-WE-DirectorWaiver-141909, July 21, 2015, pp. 12, 13.

[5] Stephen A. Lybarger, OCC Conditional Approval, Letter to Joseph M. Otting Re: Application to Merge CIT Bank, Salt Lake City, UT with and into OneWest Bank, N.A., Pasadena, CA and Request for Waiver of Residency Requirement; OCC Control Numbers: 2014-WE-Combination-139872 and 2015-WE-DirectorWaiver-141909, July 21, 2015, pp. 20, 17, 21.

[6] Id. at 22.

New CFPB Study on Reverse Mortgage Ads find Many Contain Confusing, Incomplete, and Inaccurate Statements

Fred Thompson vs. new CFPB study

Picture of former Senator Fred Thompson in reverse mortgage advertisement

“When it’s a former Congressman endorsing it, it makes it sound like a good idea.” -consumer discussing reverse mortgage advertisements and celebrity spokespeople.

Earlier today, the CFPB released a study that examined advertisements for reverse mortgages.

They found:

Among the advertisements we collected, on their face, many contained confusing, incomplete, and inaccurate statements regarding borrower requirements, government insurance, and borrower risks. Furthermore, after viewing ads in our focus groups, many consumers were confused or had misconceptions about important features and terms of reverse mortgage loans. For example, some consumers struggled to understand that reverse mortgages are loans that must be repaid with interest. Consumers also often misinterpreted the role of the federal government in the reverse mortgage market as providing consumer protections that are not actually offered.

If you’re a regular follower of CRC, you know that we’re opposing the CIT Group and OneWest merger, and one of the issues that has come to light is the reverse mortgage servicing subsidiary of OneWest bank, innocuously named “Financial Freedom.”

At a Federal Reserve hearing held in February 2015 in Los Angeles, dozens of people and organizations testified against the merger.  A number of the people who either spoke or submitted testimony cited their incredibly difficult times trying to work with Financial Freedom, especially after the death of a loved one.

The issue of surviving spouses facing foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage that was originated solely with their deceased spouse has come to light thanks to a class action lawsuit by AARP against HUD for turning a blind eye to reverse mortgage brokers and companies originating these loans to only one spouse, with the implicit suggest that the often younger, often female spouse, wouldn’t face foreclosure and/or could be added to the loan later.  Now, these widowed homeowners are facing foreclosure.

HUD released a policy in January 2015 to address this issue, but most experts predicted it would be useless for the very people it was supposed to help.  In April, HUD rescinded the policy, but what about the homeowners who are potentially facing foreclosure?

Take a look at the testimony by Karen Hunziker, who is a surviving spouse, facing foreclosure.  Does this sound like a helpful loan servicing department, especially if you’re a grieving spouse?

Additionally OWB has failed to provide a Single Point of Contact. This creates a communication maze impossible to navigate for the consumer to get customer support or guidance.

One day, I called 5 times to verify I received the 90 day extension OWB promised in writing. I spoke to 5 different people all with a different story. In part, I was told:

• OWB didn’t receive the documents faxed multiple times,
• The documents needed to be reviewed by their legal department,
• I had to call back in 5 days
• I used up all my extensions.
• I didn’t get the documents in on time,
• The last person told me my property was scheduled for auction in 30 days.

At all times OWB refused to put any phone conversation in writing.

For more background on this issue, read these two articles.

Will grandma get run over by HUD’s reverse mortgage policy?

New Reverse Mortgage Policy Leaves Widows and Widowers Homeless

If you’re an attorney working with a surviving spouse facing foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage, or if you’re a surviving spouse facing foreclosure, please contact CRC if you’d like to join in advocacy on this issue. We are NOT able to represent you as an attorney, but we would like to have you join in our advocacy to bring greater attention to this problem and how it is affecting widowed homeowners.

 

 

OneWest Bank Foreclosure Tracker: How Many Families Are Losing Their Homes?

Editor’s note: We have compiled much of the information below (and a whole lot more!) on our website: www.badbankmerger.com.  Take a look and let us know what you think!

As we reported earlier, OneWest Bank has refused to disclose how many foreclosures it has conducted since purchasing IndyMac Bank in 2009.  Instead, the leadership of the two banks would like to continue processing foreclosures on US families, be reimbursed from the FDIC for doing so, and hope that nobody questions their foreclosure track record as they attempt to merge with CIT Group.

CRC and our members and allies remain hopeful the Federal Reserve and the OCC will require OneWest Bank to disclose this information to the public.

But, in the mean time, we are going to start posting OneWest foreclosure notices every day on our new OneWest Foreclosure Tracker. The bank has already foreclosed on tens of thousands of homeowners, but this tracker is starting from March 2015.

If you have a foreclosure notice with OneWest you’d like us to include, please email it to scoffey@calreinvest.org.  We can also post pictures of a foreclosure notice in your local paper.  If it is a Financial Freedom (subsidiary of OneWest Bank) foreclosure, we will indicate that with red ink.  Homeowners, attorneys, and surviving spouses all testified about their nightmare experiences interacting with Financial Freedom at at Federal Reserve hearing that you can read about here: SURVIVING HEIRS TESTIFY ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH FINANCIAL FREEDOM AND ONEWEST BANK FORECLOSURES

OneWest Bank: Foreclosing on Families Across the United States

66. IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL ACTION CASE NO.: 05-2014-CA-030380 DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK N.A., Plaintiff, vs. HIGHT, JOHN R et al, Defendant(s). NOTICE OF SALE PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 45 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN Pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated 7 April, 2015, and entered in Case No. 05-2014-CA-030380 of the Circuit Court of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Brevard County, Florida in which OneWest Bank N.A., is the Plaintiff and Courtney Page Hight, an incapacitated person, by and through, Pennie Page also known as Pennie Ann Hight, as Guardian, as an Heir of the Estate of John R. Hight also known as Johnny R.Hight, deceased, Tenant # 1 n/k/a Dorothy Wilkinson, Tenant # 2 n/k/a Paul Robinson, Tenant #3 n/k/a Julius Talpas, The Unknown Heirs, Devisees, Grantees, Assignees, Lienors, Creditors, Trustees, or other Claimants claiming by, through, under, or against, John R. Hight also known as Johnny R. Hight also known as John Robert Hight, deceased, United States of America, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, are defendants,

65. IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL ACTION CASE NO.: 05-2013-CA-037292 DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. FOWLER, CHARLES A et al, Defendant(s). NOTICE OF SALE PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 45 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN Pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated 8 April, 2015, and entered in Case No. 05-2013-CA-037292 of the Circuit Court of the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Brevard County, Florida in which Onewest Bank, Fsb, is the Plaintiff and Barefoot Bay Homeowners Association Inc, Mark Charles Fowler, Pamela Spuller, The Unknown Beneficiaries Of The Fowler Revocable Living Trust dated Novemebr 29, 1995, The Unknown Successor(s) Trustee(s) Of The Fowler Revocable Living Trust Dated November 29, 1995, are defendants…

64.  IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL ACTION CASE NO.: 05-2013-CA-036826-XXXX-XX DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. RICHARD F BELL, et al, Defendant(s). NOTICE OF ACTION To: THE UNKNOWN SPOUSE, HEIRS, BENEFICIARIES, DEVISEES, GRANTEES, ASSIGNEES, LIENORS, CREDITORS, TRUSTEES, AND ALL OTHER PARTIES CLAIMING AN INTEREST BY, THROUGH, UNDER OR AGAINST THE ESTATE OF RICHARD F. BELL, DECEASED Last Known Address: Unknown Current Address: Unknown ANY AND ALL UNKNOWN PARTIES CLAIMING BY, THROUGH, UNDER, AND AGAINST THE HEREIN NAMED INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANT(S) WHO ARE NOT KNOWN TO BE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHETHER SAID UNKNOWN PARTIES MAY CLAIM AN INTEREST AS SPOUSES, HEIRS, DEVISEES, GRANTEES, OR OTHER CLAIMANTS Last Known Address: Unknown Current Address: Unknown YOU ARE NOTIFIED that an action to foreclose a mortgage on the following property in Brevard County, Florida: LOT 12, BLOCK 338, PORT MALABAR UNIT NINE, ACCORDING TO THE PLAT THEREOF, AS RECORDED IN PLAT BOOK 15 PAGES 1 THROUGH 9, PUBLIC RECORDS OF BREVARD COUNTY,

63. The Property is subject to that certain Deed of Trust dated 3/23/2006, recorded 3/27/2006, under Auditors/Recorder’s No. 4143966, records of CLARK County, Washington, and an agreement to modify the terms and provisions of the said Deed of Trust, dated 12112/2007 from LEONID KUCHEROV A MARRIED MAN, as Grantor, to FIDELITY NATIONAL TITLE, as Trustee, in favor of INDYMAC BANK, F.S.B., as Beneficiary, the beneficial interest in which is presently held by OneWest Bank, FSB. 1/ No action commenced by the Beneficiary of the Deed of Trust is now pending to seek satisfaction of the obligation in any court by reason of the Borrower’s or Grantor’s default on the obligation secured by the Deed of Trust.

62. STATE OF NEW MEXICO COUNTY OF BERNALILLO SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT No. D-202-CV-2013-06333 ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. ADORACION ABRAMS, IF LIVING, IF DECEASED, THE UNKNOWN HEIRS, DEVISEES OR LEGATEES OF ADORACION ABRAMS, DECEASED, TYNA ABRAMS, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY AND THROUGH THE SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, GE MONEY BANK, THE UNKNOWN SPOUSE OF ADORACION ABRAMS, IF ANY AND THE UNKNOWN SPOUSE OF TYNA ABRAMS, IF ANY, Defendants. NOTICE OF SALE Notice is hereby given that on June 11, 2015, at the hour of 10:00 AM, the undersigned Special Master, will, at the front entrance of the Bernalillo County Courthouse, at 400 Lomas Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, sell all of the rights, title and interest of the above-named Defendants, in and to the hereinafter described real estate to the highest bidder for cash.

61. IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS COUNTY DEPARTMENT – CHANCERY DIVISION ONEWEST BANK N.A. Plaintiff, -v.- JENNIFER MIMMS GOOCH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, CITY OF CHICAGO, SOUTH SUBURBAN REHABILITATION CENTER, LLC, UNKNOWN HEIRS AND LEGATEES OF KATE MIMMS, UNKNOWN OWNERS AND NONRECORD CLAIMANTS, WILLIAM P. BUTCHER, AS SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR KATE MIMMS (DECEASED) Defendants 14 CH 016044 2122 170TH STREET HAZEL CREST, IL 60429 NOTICE OF SALE PUBLIC NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that pursuant to a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale entered in the above cause on April 6, 2015, an agent for The Judicial Sales Corporation, will at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2015, at The Judicial Sales Corporation, One South Wacker Drive – 24th Floor, CHICAGO, IL, 60606,

60. NOTICE OF SALE SUPREME COURT – COUNTY OF SUFFOLK ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff -against- GAIL PUSKAS AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JAMES WALTER UNDERHILL A/K/A JAMES W. UNDERHILL-DECEASED, SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

59. OneWest Bank NA v. Rosetta A. Swainstonreal property;

58.  May 29, 2015 IN THE CIRCUITCOURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA CIVIL ACTION CASE NO.: 2015-CA-022533 DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK N.A., Plaintiff, vs. ANTHONY BASTONE , et al, Defendant(s)….YOU ARE NOTIFIED that an action to foreclose a mortgage on the following property in Brevard County, Florida

57.  Date Filed May 5, 2015 Case Number845101 Amount$83,481.34 Case Type Foreclosure Judge Judge J. Burnside Onewest Bank, NA 2603 Main St., Ste. 300 Irvine California 92614. Defendant: David Dove, et al. 1613 Plymouth Road Cleveland Ohio 44109

56. COUNTY OF MORRIS SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY Morris County Chancery Division SHERIFF’S SALE NO. 15000412 DOCKET NO. F-008435-12 PLAINTIFF OneWest Bank, FSB DEFENDANTS- Sue C. Roberts, her heirs, devisees and personal representatives, and her, their, or any of their successors in right, title, and interest;

55. Onewest Bank, address not shown, vs. Charles Landers, individually and as Trustee of the Landers Family Revocable Living Trust, 958 Hunters Lane, et al., default on note for $190,688.12 plus attorney’s fees, costs, etc.

54. NOTICE OF SALE UNDER POWER STATE OF GEORGIA COUNTY OF RABUN Under and by virtue of the power of sale contained with that certain Security Deed dated August 19, 2009, from Vaughan Watts and Nancy V. Watts to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as nominee for Financial Freedom Acquisition LLC, A Subsidiary Of OneWest Bank, FSB, recorded on September 2, 2009 in Deed Book J-35 at Page 448, Rabun County, Georgia Records, having been last sold, assigned, transferred and conveyed to OneWest Bank N.A. (formerly known as OneWest Bank, FSB) by Assignment and said Security Deed having been given to secure a note dated August 19, 2009, in the amount of $750,000.00, said note being in default, the undersigned will sell at public outcry during the legal hours of sale before the door of the courthouse of Rabun County, Georgia, on June 2, 2015, the following described real property (hereinafter referred to as the “Property”):

53. 226 Valleyview Drive, Franklin, buyer: Onewest Bank NA, seller: York Trustee Services LLC, Jan. 15, price: $247,526.

52. PUBLIC AUCTION – FORECLOSURE SALE Docket No.: CV14-6041672S Case Name: Onewest Bank, FSB v. Bernice Sullivan, The Widow, Heirs, and/or Creditors of the Estate, et al Property Address: 410-412 Hollister Avenue, Bridgeport, CT Type: Residential Sale Date: May 9, 2015

51. OneWest Bank NA v. Constance A. Feeney, real property.

50. AustinTown Neighbors: OneWest Bank NA v. Joan L. Armstrong et al, foreclosure.

49. Bradenton Herald: Estate of Glenn P. Lefevre et al, $198,746, Onewest Bank FSB, 2013-CA-000985, online.

48. Bradenton Herald: Woltz Revocable Trust under Trust Agreement et al, $176,107, Onewest Bank NA, 2014-CA-004502, online.

47. Bradenton Herald: Terri Ann Allen et al, $155,887, Onewest Bank NA, 2014-CA-003793, online.

46. Vindy.com: OneWest Bank NA v. Joan L. Armstrong et al, foreclosure.

45. Kaango.com: STATE OF CONNECTICUT RETURN DATE: MAY 12, 2015 :SUPERIOR COURT ONEWEST BANK N.A. :JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF :STAMFORD-NORWALK V. :AT STAMFORD THE WIDOWER, HEIRS AND/OR CREDITORS OF THE ESTATE OF :MARCH 20, 2015 ANTOINETTE D. BALZARINI A/K/A ANTOINETTE DALE BALZARINI, ET AL. NOTICE TO THE WIDOWER, HEIRS, AND/OR CREDITORS OF THE ESTATE OF ANTOINETTE D. BALZARINI A/K/A ANTOINETTE DALE BALZARINI AND ALL UNKNOWN PERSONS, CLAIMING OR WHO MAY CLAIM, ANY RIGHTS, TITLE, INTEREST OR ESTATE IN OR LIEN OR ENCUMBRANCE UPON THE PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THIS COMPLAINT, ADVERSE TO THE PLAINTIFF, WHETHER SUCH CLAIM OR POSSIBLE CLAIM BE VESTED OR CONTINGENT. The Plaintiff has named as a Defendant, THE WIDOWER, HEIRS AND/OR CREDITORS OF THE ESTATE OF ANTOINETTE BALZARINO A/K/A ANTOINETTE DALE BALZARINI, and all unknown persons, claiming or who may claim, any rights, title, interest or estate in or lien or encumbrance upon the property described in this Complaint, adverse to the Plaintiff, whether such claim or possible claim can be vested or contingent, if not living, as a party defendant(s) in the complaint which it is bringing to the above-named Court seeking a foreclosure of its mortgage upon premises known as 128 CRESTWOOD DRIVE, STAMFORD, CT 06905

44. Houmato Today:  Defendant: Harold Conn Jr; Plaintiff: Onewest Bank; Executory Process; $N/A; Entry#126934 on 3/4/2015.

43. Middletown Press: LEGAL NOTICE FORECLOSURE AUCTION SALE MMX-CV-14-6012706-S Case Name: Onewest Bank N.A. v. Kristen L. Johansen, et al Property Address: 10 Cedar Street Essex, Connecticut Property: Residential Date of Sale: May 9, 2015

42. Farmington Independent: MORTGAGOR(S): Mary A. Hansen, a single person MORTGAGEE: Mountain Pacific Mortgage Company LENDER OR BROKER AND MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR STATED ON THE MORTGAGE: Mountain Pacific Mortgage Company SERVICER: OneWest Bank N.A.

DATE AND PLACE OF FILING: Filed November 27, 2007, Dakota County Recorder, as Document Number 2557780
ASSIGNMENTS OF MORTGAGE: Assigned to: Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corporation, a subsidiary of IndyMac Bank, F.S.B.; thereafter assigned to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. Thereafter assigned to OneWest Bank N.A.

41. Philly.com: CIVIL ACTION LAW  COURT OF COMMON PLEAS  PHILADELPHIA COUNTY  Number 140400230
OneWest Bank, FSB v.  Stephen D. Metas, Known Surviving Heir of Antoinette Metas, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, Theresa Ann Freda, a/k/a Theresa Ann Metas, Known Surviving Heir of Antoinette Metas, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner,  Unknown Surviving Heirs of Antoinette Metas, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, Christopher W.S. Metas, Known Surviving Heir of Antoinette Metas, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, and Stephen D. Metas, Known Surviving Heir of Antoinette Metas, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner…

40. Amittyville Record: Premises being foreclosed: 150 Scott Avenue Deer Park, NY 11729 ACTION TO FORECLOSE MORTGAGE ON PROPERTY SITUATED IN SUFFOLK COUNTY SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF SUFFOLK …………X OneWest Bank N.A. f/k/a OneWest Bank, FSB, Plaintiff, -against- Anna Lois Jones a/k/a Anna L. Jones and all the heirs at law, next of kin, distributees, devisees, grantees, trustees, lienors, creditors, assignees and successors in interest of any of the aforesaid defendants at law….

39. OneWest Bank NA v. Mary Sefner et al, foreclosure.

38. Onewest Bank v. unkown heirs, Mike T. Chytraus, Steve E. Chytraus, Elizabeth C. Nielson, Sudden Valley Community Association, United State of America, the state of Washington, occupants of the premises, foreclosure.

37. The Morning Journal: SHERIFF’S SALE OF REAL ESTATE Plaintiff: ONEWEST BANK N.A. Vs. Defendant: MICHAEL W. WILLIAMS, ET. AL. Case Number 14CV184651 Court of Common Pleas, Lorain County, Ohio In pursuance of an Order of Sale issued from said Court to me directed in the above entitled action, I will expose to sale, at public auction in the Commissioner’s Public hearing Room on the 4th floor of the Lorain County Administration Building, 226 Middle Ave., Elyria, Ohio on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 10:15 am or shortly thereafter the following described real estate

36. Asbury Park Press: Seized as the property of CARL GUNNAR SODERLING, ETC., ET ALS, and taken in execution at the suit of ONEWEST BANK, FSB, to be sold by Michael G. Mastronardy, Sheriff.

35. Daytona Beach News Journal: OneWest Bank NA v. Foye J. Hensarling, real property

34. Amityville Record: Date filed: 2/25/15 SUPPLEMENTAL SUMMONS Premises being foreclosed: 150 Scott Avenue Deer Park, NY 11729 ACTION TO FORECLOSE MORTGAGE ON PROPERTY SITUATED IN SUFFOLK COUNTY SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF SUFFOLK …………X OneWest Bank N.A. f/k/a OneWest Bank, FSB, Plaintiff, -against- Anna Lois Jones a/k/a Anna L. Jones and all the heirs at law, next of kin, distributees, devisees, grantees, trustees, lienors, creditors, assignees and successors in interest…

33. The Vindicator: OneWest Bank NA v. Mary Sefner et al, foreclosure.

32. Alachua County Today: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, JOHNNY L. WATTS et al,Defendant(s). NOTICE OF SALE PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 45 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN Pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated 18 February, 2015, and entered in Case No. 01 2014 CA 000967 of the Circuit Court of the Eighth Judicial Circuit in and for Alachua County, Florida in which Onewest Bank, FSB, is the Plaintiff and Johnny L. Watts, Bertha L. Watts, United States of America Acting on Behalf of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development,, are defendants, the Alachua County Clerk of the Circuit Court will sell to the highest and best bidder for cash in/on the lobby of the Alachua County Family/Civil Justice Center, 201 East University Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601., Alachua County, Florida at 11:00AM on the 1st of May, 2015, the following described property as set forth in said Final Judgment of Foreclosure:

31. Daytona Beach News-Journal: OneWest Bank NA v. Jose A. Soto Rodriguez, real property

30. Daily Legal News: The Unknown Successor Trustees and/or Beneficiaries of the Kerver Family Revocable Living Trust dated February 22, 2002, whose last known address and present address are unknown, will take notice that on February 16, 2015, the undersigned, OneWest Bank N.A. c/o Financial Freedom, filed its complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, 1200 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, alleging that there is due the plaintiff the sum of $174,049.63 as of January 21, 2015, on a Home Equity Conversion Note secured by a mortgage deed of even date conveying the following described property to wit:

29. Daily Legal News: OneWest Bank, FSB c/o Financial Freedom, filed its complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, 1200 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, alleging that there is due the plaintiff the sum of $156,628.12 as of January 30, 2014, on a Home Equity Conversion Note secured by a mortgage deed of even date conveying the following described property to wit….Plaintiff further says that as the result of scrivener’s error and mutual mistake of fact between the parties thereto, the Granting Clause in the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage executed by the primary defendant does not contain the marital status of the mortgagor. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Marian Danzi was in fact unmarried at the time of the execution of the plaintiff’s mortgage. Because this mistake was the result of a scrivener’s error and mutual mistake of fact between the parties to said document, plaintiff is entitled to have the above described mortgage reformed to properly state “Marian Danzi, unmarried” in the Granting Clause of said mortgage. Plaintiff is further entitled to an order of this Court decreeing the property as described in Plaintiff’s mortgage be sold at Sheriff’s Sale.

28. Ashbury Park Press: Seized as the property of LANE A. CURTIS, ET AL, and taken in execution at the suit of ONEWEST BANK, FSB, to be sold by Michael G. Mastronardy, Sheriff.

27. Ashbury Park Press: Seized as the property of OSCAR C. CORLISS, ETC., ET ALS, and taken in execution at the suit of ONEWEST BANK, N.A., to be sold by Michael G. Mastronardy, Sheriff.

26. NewsLeaderOnline: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. THE UNKNOWN SPOUSE, HEIRS, BENEFICIARIES, DEVISEES, GRANTEES, ASSIGNEES, LIENOR, CREDITORS, TRUSTEES, AND ALL OTHER PARTIES CLAIMING AN INTEREST BY, THROUGH, UNDER OR AGAINST THE ESTATE OF FRANCES W. PACETTI A/K/A FRANCES PACETTI, DECEASED, et al,

25. Ashbury Park Press: OCEAN COUNTY SHERIFF’S SALE By virtue of the above stated writ, to me directed, issued out of the SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, CHANCERY DIVISION Docket No. F02315713 will be exposed to sale at public venue on TUESDAY the 7th DAY OF APRIL, A.D. 2015 between the hours of 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock (at 2 o’clock) Prevailing Time in the afternoon of said day at the Office of the Sheriff, Toms River, Township of Toms River, County of Ocean, New Jersey.Seized as the property of PETER JOHN VAIRO, ETC., ET ALS, and taken in execution at the suit of ONEWEST BANK, FSB, to be sold by Michael G. Mastronardy, Sheriff.

24. InYork: OneWest Bank N.A. v. Aron Richter, Known Surviving Heir of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, Jennifer Richter, Known Surviving Heir of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, John C. Hooper II, Known Surviving Heir of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, Unknown Surviving Heirs of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner, and Sheree Hooper, Known Surviving Heir of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner NOTICE OF SHERIFF’S SALE OF REAL PROPERTY TO: Jennifer Richter, Known Surviving Heir of Isabelle R. Hooper, Deceased Mortgagor and Real Owner Your house (real estate) at 3009 Faith Lane, Red Lion, Pennsylvania 17356 is scheduled to be sold at Sheriff’s Sale on June 8, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in the Sheriffs Office,York County Judicial Center, 45 North George Street, York, PA 17401 to enforce the court judgment of $139,995.17 obtained by OneWest Bank N.A. against you.

23. Eugene Weekly: ONEWEST BANK N.A., FKA ONEWEST BANK FSB, its successors in interest and/or assigns, Plaintiff, v. UNKNOWN HEIRS OF DOROTHY L. ROSDAHL; RICK R. ROSDAHL AKA RICK RAY ROSDAHL; DORA L. ROSDAHL;

22. Daily Legal News: 838024—Financial Freedom  OneWest Bank, N.A. vs. Lessie Curry aka Lessie Adams aka Lessie M. Curry, et al.

21. The Daytona Beach News-Journal: OneWest Bank NA v. Caryll A. Dunham, real property

20. Geuga County Maple Leaf: LEGAL NOTICE IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS GEAUGA COUNTY, OHIO 14-F-000733 – OneWest Bank, N.A., Plaintiff vs. Daniel J. Sitkowski, aka Daniel Sitkowski, et al., Defendants

19. Lincoln Journal Star: By virtue of an order of sale issued by the District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska, and pursuant to a decree of said Court in an action therein indexed at Case No. CI 14-1881, wherein OneWest Bank N.A. f/k/a OneWest Bank, FSB, is the plaintiff, and Charlotte Haas, Personal Representative of the Estate of Merlyn D. Brindley, Deceased, the Estate of Merlyn D. Brindley, the Heirs, Legatees, Devisees, Personal Representatives,

18. Knoxville News Sentinel: Shapiro and Ingle LLP, substitute trustee, to OneWest Bank, on Belt Road, $97,956.

17. Bradenton Herald: Richard Rowe et al, $485,191, Onewest Bank FSB, 2009-CA-007878, online.

16. Bradenton Herald: Rann Family Revocable Living Trust April 24, 1992 et al, $361,574, Onewest Bank FSB, 2013-CA-000692, online.

15. Middletown Press Classifieds: LEGAL NOTICE FORECLOSURE AUCTION SALE Docket No: MMX-CV14-6011234-S Case Name: OneWest Bank, FSB, OneWest Bank National Association vs. The Widower, Heirs and/or Creditors to the Estate of Shirley J. Rasmussen Property Address: 9 Woods Lane Clinton, CT Property Type: Residential Date of Sale: Saturday, April 11, 2015…

14.  Daily Legal News: Financial Freedom: 837783—OneWest Bank N.A. fka OneWest Bank, FSB vs. Jennifer Gayle Arshenovitz aka Jennifer Arshenovitz, et al. The unknown heirs, devisees, legatees, executors, administrators, spouses and assigns and the unknown guardians of minor and/or incompetent heirs of Bernard Arshenovitz, the place of residence of each being unknown, will take notice that on December 22, 2014, the undersigned, OneWest Bank N.A. fka OneWest Bank, FSB c/o Financial Freedom, filed its complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, 1200 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, of Cuyahoga County, Ohio….

13.  News Leader Online: CASE NO.: 13-CA-000530-AXYX DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. CLEO G COURSON, et al, Defendant(s). NOTICE OF SALE PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 45 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN Pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated 2-10-15, and entered in Case No. 13-CA-000530-AXYX of the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit in and for Nassau County, Florida in which Onewest Bank, Fsb, is the Plaintiff and Dorothy Courson, Laura Gail Courson A/K/A Laura Gail Claxton, Nadine C. Courson, The Unknown Spouse, Heirs, Beneficiaries, Devisees, Grantees, Assignee, Lienors, Creditors, Trustees, and all other Parties claiming an interest by, through, under or against the Estate of Cleo G. Courson, Deceased….

12. TimesFreePress.com: SUBSTITUTE TRUSTEE’S SALE Sale at public auction will be on April 13, 2015 at 10:00AM local time, at the west door, Hamilton County Courthouse, 615 Walnut Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, pursuant to Deed of Trust executed by John E. Clark, to Resource Real Estate Services, LLC, Trustee, on February 28, 2007 at Book GI 8266, Page 608; all of record in the Hamilton County Register’s Office. Party entitled to enforce security interest: OneWest Bank N.A, its successors and assigns 

11. Morning Sun Classifieds: FINANCIAL FREEDOM: MORTGAGE SALE – Default has been made in the conditions of a mortgage made by Shirley Henderson, fka Shirley A. Richardson, unmarried, original mortgagor(s), to Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corporation, a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB, Mortgagee, dated January 31, 2003, and recorded on June 10, 2003 in Liber 1170 on Page 295, and assigned by mesne assignments to OneWest Bank N.A. as assignee as documented by an assignment, in Isabella county records, Michigan, on which mortgage there is claimed to be due at the date hereof the sum of Seventy-Four Thousand Three Hundred Thirty-Six and 60/100 Dollars ($74,336.60). Under the power of sale contained in said mortgage and the statute in such case made and provided, notice is hereby given that said mortgage will be foreclosed by a sale of the mortgaged premises, or some part of them, at public vendue, at the place of holding the circuit court within Isabella County, at 10:00 AM, on April 16, 2015.

10. Orlando Business Journal: ONEWEST BANK N.A., Plaintiff, vs. BONITA B. BEAR AKA BONITA B. BAGGETT, et al, Defendant(s). ________________________/ NOTICE OF SALE PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 45 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN Pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated March 3, 2015, and entered in Case No. 35-2014-CA-001679 of the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit in and for Lake County, Florida in which OneWest Bank N.A., is the Plaintiff….

9. Daily Freeman Classifieds: SUPREME COURT – COUNTY OF ULSTER ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff against CRAIG CRAWFORD, et al, Defendant(s). Pursuant to a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale entered October 17, 2013.

8. The Times-Picayune: Michelle Drive 38212: Onewest Bank NA to OWB REO LLC, $50,000.

7. The McLeod County Chronicle: FINANCIAL FREEDOM MORTGAGEE: Cornerstone Mortgage Co.
LENDER OR BROKER AND MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR STATED ON THE MORTGAGE: Cornerstone Mortgage Co. SERVICER: OneWest Bank N.A.
DATE AND PLACE OF FILING: Filed April 2, 2009, McLeod County Recorder, as Document Number A-382814
ASSIGNMENTS OF MORTGAGE: Assigned to: Financial Freedom Senior Funding Corporation; Thereafter assigned to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.; thereafter assigned to OneWest Bank, N.A.
– See more at: http://www.glencoenews.com/content/foreclosure-reinert-1#sthash.j0KV10fe.dpuf

6. Daily Legal News: FINANCIAL FREEDOM 833316—OneWest Bank, N.A. vs. Carol McNeil, et al.

The unknown heirs, devisees, legatees, executors, administrators, spouses and assigns and the unknown guardians of minor and/or incompetent heirs of Carol McNeil, the place of residence of each being unknown, will take notice that on January 29, 2015, the undersigned, OneWest Bank, N.A. c/o Financial Freedom, filed its second amended complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, 1200 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44113, of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, alleging that there is due the plaintiff the sum of $59,497.28 as of August 13, 2014, on a Home Equity Conversion Note secured by a mortgage deed of even date conveying the following described property to wit:

5. The Daytona Beach News-Journal: OneWest Bank FSB v. Georgette Derienzo, et al, 1150 Bryn Mawr Drive, Daytona Beach, single-family residence.

4. The Daytona Beach News-Journal: OneWest Bank FSB v. Stephen Perechodiuk, et al, 16 Oak Brook Drive, Ormond Beach, single-family residence.

3. MyCentralJersey.com: COUNTY OF MORRIS SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY Morris County Chancery Division SHERIFF’S SALE NO. 15000105 DOCKET NO. F-35996-09 PLAINTIFF – ONEWEST BANK, FSB DEFENDANTS- EVA KELEMEN Writ of Execution. By virtue of the above stated Writ of Execution to me directed and delivered I will expose for sale at public vendue on Thursday THE 16th DAY OF April 2015 between the hours of two and five o’clock in the afternoon of said day, that is to say at 2:00 P.M.

2.The Beacon: SUPREME COURT – COUNTY OF SUFFOLK ONEWEST BANK, FSB,
V. CATHY Y. MORRIS, et al.
NOTICE OF SALE
NOTICE IS HEREBY
GIVEN pursuant to a Final Judgment of Foreclosure dated 10/5/10, and
entered in the Office of the
Clerk of the County of SUFFOLK, wherein ONEWEST
BANK, FSB is the Plaintiff
and CATHY Y. MORRIS, ET
AL. are the Defendant(s). I,

1. CASE NO.: 05-2013-CA-031056 DIVISION: ONEWEST BANK, FSB, Plaintiff, vs. THE UNKNOWN SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE(S) OF THE ARLEE L. MILLER REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST, DATED JANUARY 22, 1990 et al,

The OneWest Bank Foreclosure Tracker: Tracking Foreclosures Across the US

As you may know, OneWest Bank is proposing to merge with CIT Group, creating a Systemically Important Financial Institution, more commonly referred to as a Too Big To Fail Bank.

The California Reinvestment Coalition, along with 100 other California and national nonprofit organizations are opposing this merger, citing a lack of public benefit, concerns about both banks’ Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) records and the future CRA plan of the banks if the merger were to be approved by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  In addition to the 100 national organizations who serve tens of thousands of clients every year, there are also over 21,000 people who have signed petitions sponsored by the Daily Kos and by National People’s Action against the merger.

Another issue that community leaders, homeowners, widowed/widower homeowners are deeply concerned about is OneWest’s foreclosure record.  OneWest has already received over $1 billion from the FDIC for its costs related to foreclosures, and the FDIC estimates it will pay OneWest (owned by billionaires) another $1.4 billion before 2019.

Since October 2014, CRC and other organizations have asked OneWest Bank to disclose the number of foreclosures it has processed since taking over IndyMac Bank in 2009.  We know from ForeclosureRadar.com data that OneWest Bank and its reverse mortgage servicing subsidiary, Financial Freedom, has conducted over 35,000 foreclosures in California.

But, so far, OneWest Bank has either refused to share additional information about foreclosures with its regulators, the Federal Reserve and the OCC, or the regulators have refused to share that information with the public.

So, starting today, we are launching the “OneWest Bank Foreclosure Tracker

Each day, we will be adding new foreclosure notices to this tracker.  If you have a link of a foreclosure notice you’d like to share, please send it to us.  Or, snap a picture of a notice in your local paper and we’ll upload it to the tracker.

Twenty-One Unanswered Questions About the OneWest and CIT Group Merger

Why No Questions at OneWest Hearing

In February, the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency held a public hearing about the proposed merger of CIT Group and OneWest Bank. Public hearings are not held on every proposed bank merger, and some thought the hearing was held both in response to the record-breaking opposition to it, and in response to the many unique issues raised by this merger.

While advocates appreciated the regulators holding the hearing, they were also surprised that the regulators at the hearing didn’t ask the Bank CEOs, the supporters, or the opponents, any questions.

CT Financial News wrote “Yet, despite the size of the deal and the controversial issues it raises, regulators asked no questions of any of the public speakers, not even of Thain or Otting.”

It wasn’t for a lack of questions about the proposed merger.

CRC and other organizations have raised questions about the merger since October, but unfortunately the banks have declined to be transparent with the community.

While there is a long list of unanswered questions about this merger, we are including some of the more significant ones that have been raised since October when CRC initially announced our opposition to this merger.  For more information, see CRC’s Merger Resource Page where you can read the in-depth letters we have sent to the regulators.

Foreclosures

At the hearing, Joseph Otting, CEO of OneWest Bank, shared figures on the number of modifications OneWest has provided, but he didn’t share any numbers about foreclosures, improper foreclosures, or how many more people are facing foreclosure.

Mr. Otting’s testimony at the hearing:

Joseph Otting Testimony at Public Hearing

1) Is there a contradiction between the statement above and the outside indicators below about OneWest foreclosure practices?

They include:

2) How many families has OneWest Bank foreclosed on, both nationally and in California since buying the failed IndyMac Bank in 2009?

3) Has OneWest ever submitted a reimbursement claim to the FDIC for a wrongful foreclosure, such as this one?

OneWest Mortgage Fraud Case

4)  How many widowed, widower surviving spouses and other heirs, like these two sisters below, has OneWest’s reverse mortgage servicer subsidiary, Financial Freedom, foreclosed on since buying IndyMac in 2009?

Foreclosing on Heirs

5) How many homeowners, surviving spouses, and other heirs are in OneWest’s foreclosure pipeline right now?

6) Does OneWest Bank (and do regulators) believe that OneWest Bank is exempt from the California Homeowner Bill of Rights?

From the East Bay Express article: Saving the Homeowner Bill of Rights

Danny Barak, an attorney in Foondos’ law office, is currently appealing the decision before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of reversing the lower court’s decision, and clarifying once and for all that federal savings banks like OneWest can’t claim preemption over California’s foreclosure protection laws. “I think that a Ninth Circuit ruling that the Homeowner Bill of Rights is not preempted by HOLA would end this problem once and for all,” said a hopeful Barak.

Attorneys representing OneWest Bank and representatives of the bank’s public relations firm, Sard Verbinnen & Company, did not respond to requests for comment for this report.

7) Homeowners are wondering-  Are there any contradictions between the statements like Mr. Thain’s (below) vs. the actions of the investors who bought this bank, knowing they would be foreclosing on tens of thousands of people and getting reimbursed by the FDIC for these foreclosure costs (to the tune of $2.4 billion)?

At the hearing, Mr. Thain, CEO of CIT Group, commented to the WSJ:

“I think the stories you’ve just heard [on the panels] are terrible.” He then referenced one example of people being thrown out of their house but blamed a federal rule he said needed to be changed.

8) If Mr. Thain is concerned about these foreclosures, is he willing to work with OneWest Bank, and/or with the regulators to reduce the number of preventable foreclosures and to ensure that surviving spouses aren’t being foreclosed and evicted from their homes?

Community Reinvestment

A day before the hearing, the two banks announced that they were switching plans for where CIT Bank, which collects deposits from around the US, would reinvest those deposits.  Instead of reinvesting the deposits in the communities where the money is collected, or even the top ten or twenty metropolitan areas where the deposits are collected, the banks announced that all of CIT Bank’s deposits would be reinvested in its LA Assessment area.  Here’s what one CRC member had to say about CRC and its members taking a principled stand that CIT Bank should reinvest its deposits in the communities from which it receives them:

“While we’d love the $$$ for southern California, I’m reminded of how Dorothy Richardson and her neighbors in Pittsburgh first staged a series of “sit-ins” at local banks because of the redlining in their neighborhood. Every neighborhood matters. Every family matters. Out of the strength of her convictions, Dorothy succeeded and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation and NeighborWorks Network were formed. We must stand for what is right on behalf of all of our neighbors to ensure justice for everyone. Seems fitting during Black History Month.”

9) Why are CIT and OneWest only planning on reinvesting in LA, whereas the Community Reinvestment Act calls on banks to reinvest their deposits in the communities where they receive them?

10) If CIT Bank knows where the deposits are coming from, why doesn’t CIT Bank reinvest deposits in those communities?

11) Why did the bank CEOs change course on where the deposits would be invested?  Originally they were going to continue to only reinvest the deposits in Salt Lake City, UT.

12) Why did OneWest try to keep its CRA Strategic Plan confidential?

13) Since OneWest didn’t meet the reinvestment goals it set for itself in its CRA Strategic plan, what steps (if any) will OneWest take to improve?

Systemic Risk

Community advocates, who saw the damage caused by IndyMac Bank’s reckless lending and $13 billion failure, and who witnessed the $2.3 billion bailout provided to CIT Group, are still trying to understand:

 14) How is a larger, $70 billion bank is less risky than two smaller banks?

15) How is CIT Group less interconnected today than it was in 2008, when it received its bailout from taxpayers?  (ostensibly for small business owners, though as CNN pointed out, CIT Group actually made about 1,000 fewer small business loans)

CIT Group Small Biz Lending after TARP Bailout (CNN)

16)  How can taxpayers and regulators be assured that this new bank wouldn’t try to pressure taxpayers or regulators into another bailout, as CIT Group did in 2009 (for a 2nd bailout), before filing bankruptcy?

CIT Group Tries to Pressure FDIC

17)  If CIT Group isn’t concerned about systemic risk, why has it spent more than $6,500 a day during the past two years, lobbying on things like systemic risk?  From Opensecrets.org 

CIT Group Lobbying

Meeting Community Credit Needs

18)  Why does OneWest Bank only have two branches in low income communities?

OneWest Bank Branches

19)  Outside of  mobile banking, do the bank CEOs have plans to serve low-income consumers, especially given new research by the FDIC, which found:

 “Although mobile banking would appear to be an appealing substitute for bank office visits, and is a fast-growing option, it remains one of the least common ways for consumers to access their accounts.”  

20)  Is there a reason OneWest bank’s lending record to Asian borrowers is lower than the industry as a whole?

21)  Why is most of OneWest’s small business lending to businesses with greater than $1 million in gross revenue?