Federal Reserve members visit Richmond

June 11, 2009 11:45:08 PM PDT
Several people in the East Bay, who have been hit hard by the mortgage crisis, got to complain directly to members of the Federal Reserve. The chairman himself ordered his people to hold forums around the country, after pressure from community groups.

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"We lost our savings, our credit, our dream house," said Bernice Ramos, a Richmond homeowner.

Ramos has talked about her mortgage troubles before, but never directly to members of the Federal Reserve. Representatives of the nation's central bank flew in from Washington D.C. to see and hear firsthand about the mortgage crisis that continues to blight many Bay Area cities including Richmond, among the hardest hit.

"You're lovely looking people. I'm asking you to do your part and help me and some like me save our homes. That's all I'm asking," said Ramos.

This is the fed's first in a series of community forums taking place nationwide this summer, made possible only after community advocacy groups demanded them. Jordan Estevao, with National People's Action, was among the dozen or so advocates who met face to face with Federal Chief Ben Bernanke back in March.

"Ben Bernanke listened to us and he heard the message that the financial industry seems to be holding a lot more sway over decisions that are made than communities," said Estevao.

They want the Federal Reserve to demand a new set of rules for the financial industry -- one that will make it easier to modify loans. Members of the Federal Reserve offered no guarantees, only promises that they'll be taking their stories back with them to Washington.

"There's no substitute to actually come into a community like Richmond and hear from a very eloquent panel and people in the audience about your concerns," said Alan Fishbein, with the Federal Reserve system.

As for people in mortgage trouble, they can only hope that promises will turn into action.

"I don't want the promises to help, I want the help because this is an emergency already," said homeowner Martha Hernandez.

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