Fighting foreclosures at City Hall

Tomorrow morning there will be a 10 AM press conference at City Hall, announcing a new coalition aimed at helping Oakland residents with our growing foreclosure problem and new initiatives from the City to help protect residents against foreclosure. Sadly, I have to be at work, so I won’t be able to go.

From the press release:

Predatory lenders have targeted Oakland over the last several years, and hundreds of homes are now in foreclosure as a result. This is a crisis for families who are losing their homes. It is also a crisis for many good tenants who are receiving unlawful evictions, or in some cases losing water and electricity service due to foreclosures.

On Thursday, City Attorney John Russo will announce a comprehensive program to help Oakland residents avoid predatory loans and stay out of foreclosure. The program includes a new referral hotline in the City Attorney’s Office, a major public education campaign, an October 20 foreclosure assistance workshop at City Hall and a package of legislative proposals for consideration by the California legislature.

At the press conference will be the Oakland City Attorney’s office, Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, State Senator Don Perata’s office, and a group of organizations calling themselves the Oakland Fair Lending Coalition that includes ACORN, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, the California Reinvestment Coalition, Sentinel Fair Housing, and the Center for Responsible Lending.

So obviously all this sounds like a good thing. Clearly, rising foreclosures and predatory lending are issues of serious concern, but I confess that I am not well educated on this issue enough to offer any opinion beyond that. For all I know, the programs will be stupid and unhelpful and the Oakland Fair Lending Coalition is yet another nice-sounding and well-intentioned group of activists that won’t accomplish anything and will advocate for impractical and backwards policies that will harm, rather than help those most in need of aid (IZ activists, I’m looking at you). I certainly hope not. I look forward to learning more about what they have to say, and to learning the details of the City’s new strategies.

For those who are interested, here are some news reports about rising Bay Area foreclosure rates: