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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Testifies at Legislative Conference Committee in Support of California Homeowner Bill of Rights

Thursday, May 10, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SACRAMENTO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today testified in support of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, a package of legislation designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies and to help families and communities cope with the state’s urgent mortgage and foreclosure crisis.

Attorney General Harris testified at the joint Legislative Conference Committee created to examine two key bills from the Homeowner Bill of Rights. These bills will guarantee a single point of contact for struggling homeowners, penalize the ‘robosigning’ of documents, and restrict so-called “dual track” foreclosures, where borrowers are foreclosed upon even while negotiating with their bank to pay to stay in their homes.

“This Bill of Rights is simply about common sense reform and about bringing transparency for an otherwise confusing and daunting system,” said Attorney General Harris. “It is about hard working people who believe in the American dream.”

Attorney General Harris was joined in testifying by responsible homeowners struggling with their mortgages.

Celeste Singh’s home was sold at auction before she was denied a loan modification. She has tried repeatedly to have her bank modify her loan after a car accident left her with brain damage.

“My home is where my heart is, and my community is where my children and I have laid down our grassroots,” Singh said during her testimony. “I have been an active participant in my community for years. It feels like a death sentence and thousands of Californians know what I'm talking about.”

The Homeowner Bill of Rights builds on the national mortgage settlement and California commitment announced by Attorney General Harris earlier this year. That agreement included common-sense reforms, hammered out through a thoughtful process, but which only apply to the five settling banks and only for a limited time. The bills in the Homeowner Bill of Rights would make these reforms permanent and extend them to all Californians. The bills are authored by Senator Mark Leno and Assembly Member Mike Eng.

The legislation, first introduced at a February 29th press conference, was developed in collaboration with Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and other members of the legislature. The Conference Committee features three members from each house: Senators Noreen Evans, Ron Calderon and Sam Blakeslee and Assembly Members Mike Eng, Mike Feuer, and Donald Wagner.

California won up to $18 billion in the national mortgage settlement, and has appointed an independent monitor, Professor Katherine Porter, to verify the extent and timeliness of lenders meeting their obligations to California homeowners.

Other bills in the package include:
- BLIGHT PREVENTION LEGISLATION: AB 2314 (Carter) & SB 1472 (Pavley and DeSaulnier)
- TENANT PROTECTION LEGISLATION AB 2610 (Skinner) and SB 1473 (Hancock)
- ENHANCEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL ENFORCEMENT ACT AB 1950 (Davis)
- ATTORNEY GENERAL SPECIAL GRAND JURY ACT AB 1763 (Davis) and SB 1474 (Hancock)

More information on the bills can be found here: www.leginfo.ca.gov

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