Protesters disrupt foreclosure auction on courthouse steps

March 4, 2011 7:20:16 PM PST
There may be some job gains now, but people are still losing their homes in California, and some protesters in the East Bay have decided to take their anger out in a very public way. They did it while investors were trying to buy up foreclosed properties.

The process of selling houses on the courthouse steps happens every day at the Alameda County Courthouse. However, things turned a bit different Friday when a group showed up to say they are the people behind all those lost homes.

With whistles and chants meant to drown out the auctioneers, protesters gathered to decry all that leads up to the process of the selling of a foreclosed home on the courthouse steps.

"They're buying them up and destroying families and people's lives," said a protester.

The group protesting is called WAMU homeowners -- WAMU meaning Washington Mutual which is now owned by JP Morgan Chase.

"We're tired of the illegal, unlawful foreclosures," said protester Brenda Reed. "We're sick of the fraud that the banks have been perpetrating on homeowners from the day the loan was made until the day it's seized right here on the courthouse steps."

Chase spokesperson Eileen Leveckis told ABC7, "We have helped 425,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure so far and we will continue to work with borrowers on modifications, short sales and other alternatives so that foreclosure is the last resort."

Chase claims they now modify twice as many loans as they foreclose on.

Though well off the 52 percent high reached in February 2009, foreclosure sales still make up a third of all home sales in California.

Realtor Larry Lionel Young, Jr. was at the courthouse Friday trying to sell a condo in a short sale. He thinks the banks are in a tough spot.

"It's like which way do you go? Do I modify and then they later end up being back in default again or do we allow an entire market to refinance their loans?" he said.

The Coward family says they are victims of an unscrupulous bank.

"We tried to work with the bank, they told us one thing, we did what they asked us to do and when we finished, they changed their mind again," said Ronnie Coward who lost his home to foreclosure.

It appears there will be no let up in foreclosure auction sales any time soon. One credit reporting agency predicts it will take more than four years to clear the current pipeline of all distressed and foreclosed properties. The rich and famous are also not immune to the foreclosure crisis. According to TMZ, foreclosure proceeding have started on the six-bedroom $2.4 million Oakland Hills mansion of former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell. TMZ says he has three months to come up with $195,000 in back mortgage payments or the home will go on the auction block.

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