California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a tremendous victory for the state of California in the national mortgage settlement deal. Her complete statement can be seen and heard in the video below. Harris, who became California's first female Attorney General in 2010, has been reported to be one of the key reasons the bank negotiations were settled as favorably as they were. The negotiations, which kicked off 13 months ago ,were stalled partly because Harris walked away from the original offer.
California, the state that suffered the most in terms of foreclosure, was a key player in the negotiation process. The Attorney General announced that the deal put before her last year didn't offer enough in terms of relief to the people harmed and it immunized the banks from further liability. Standing firm on her decision to not allow the people of California to be given short shrift, A.G. Harris demanded that the deal include “meaningful relief but not at the expense of meaningful investigation” before she would consider signing it.
So, in a settlement that represents one of the largest in California's history, the people of California were awarded $18 billion of the national $45 billion pot. This is set to be provided over a three-year period.
Explaining that California was given special consideration in the national bank settlement, Kamala Harris laid out how the “California Commitment” differs from the other states. Aside from getting the lion's share of the pot, Harris said the California Commitment:
- Insures that Californian's will be able to get $12 billion in principal reduction and short-sale relief
- Prioritized the communities that were the hardest hit like Boyle Heights and Stockton
- Provides restitution in the amount of $279 million to families that have already been foreclosed on
The earlier settlement discussions included the various states attorneys general, the Department of Justice and HUD, but Kamala Harris found it more effective to talk directly to the banks as well. Speaking of her return to the settlement talks, Harris said, "We returned and talked directly with the banks about the 2 million homes that are under water."
Then she went directly to the people in some of the hardest hit communities. She says she sat down and talked with families in East Los Angeles and Stockton. It was through these talks that the AG was able to see their vulnerability and embarrassment.
The attorney general emphasized the need to continue to chip away at the forces behind this crisis, stating that she and her team have instituted a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force which has been created to protect innocent homeowners and bring to justice those who defraud them.
Publisher, LA Progressive