"Don't wait for your town to be devastated. Take action Now! Here's an example of what you can do. Pass this on." -- Dave Patterson
By Dave Patterson
February 3, 2011 (Ramona)--In October 2007, Ramona lost more than 500 homes to the Witch Creek fire, a devastating blow to our economy and the vitality of our community. Since 2007, approximately 360 families in Ramona have lost their homes to foreclosure with a similar negative effect, and there are currently 140 more foreclosures initiated. Projections for 2011 are worse than 2010 with the potential for another 5 million homes foreclosed nationwide in the next few years.
With Ramona suffering at what may be the highest foreclosure rate in the county, we find ourselves at the tip of the iceberg. So we ask the question: at what point will the Ramona community reach the breaking point with the onslaught of home foreclosures? Are 500, 600 or 1,000 foreclosures enough to make our town look like a movie set for the Grapes of Wrath?
Many of us at the Ramona Forum believe that we cannot sit by and watch our community crumble as good hard-working families are sent to the street. For years we have been desensitizing ourselves to the high rate of foreclosures in Ramona with derogatory views of those foreclosed on. “They deserved it, they were reckless, or they weren’t savvy enough to protect themselves.” What we are seeing now is the loss of homes for families that worked hard all their lives and played by the rules. In response, the Ramona Forum will confront the high rate of home foreclosures in our town because it’s time to stop the hemorrhaging.
Here are some examples of how unjustified many foreclosures are. The banks may allow a short sale at the current reduced value of the home, or will foreclose and resell at the reduced value, and may not negotiate with the homeowner to keep them in the home on a new mortgage at the reduced value.
This is unjustifiable in our view because there are a number of ways that the bank can profit from a re-negotiation of the loan, including equity sharing. In equity sharing the homeowner is given a new mortgage at the lower value, but when the homeowner sells, the bank and homeowner share any accrued equity. In such a case the homeowner stays in the home, and the bank makes a profit.
Negotiations like this are what we seek for Ramonans that wish to stay in their homes. We do not need any more of our good residents made homeless when alternatives are available through honest negotiation. Therefore we are asking the banks to step up to the shared responsibility in our community, and stop foreclosing in Ramona.
To accomplish this goal, the Ramona Forum will begin staging demonstrations in front of the Bank of America. Bank of America is the largest and oldest bank in town and we want them to set a new standard for all our banks. We want the Bank of America to publicly announce a commitment to stop foreclosures on homes in Ramona and negotiate first. And we want them to follow through on that commitment.
We hope that the citizens of Ramona will join us on the sidewalk in a peaceful and non-violent manner. We will film testimonials of people foreclosed on recently or currently in foreclosure. We will offer a petition for bank customers, demanding that the bank make negotiation the priority in the foreclosure process.
When the Bank of America announces their plan to make keeping homeowners in their homes the #1 priority in Ramona, we will move the demonstrations to Chase, Wells Fargo and so on. “Stop foreclosures in Ramona, Negotiate first” is our demand.
Demonstrations will be every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. in front of the Bank of America. The first demonstration is on Friday February 11.
If you are in foreclosure or know someone who is, please join us and help to make the demonstrations a success. Contact us at 760-207-9139. It’s time for all of Ramona to join hands to help save our town!
Dave Patterson is president of The Ramona Forum (www.ramonaforum.org). The opinions expressed in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.