Feeling of Impermanence Permeates Society Made Transient by Foreclosures


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Editor’s Note: Little doubt can remain that securitization will go down in history books as the greatest crime with the most far reaching effects in the whole course of human history. Here, Ve Vries, gives her perspective and a small glimpse at out changing perception of ourselves and the world around us.

The common man on the street knows that something went terribly wrong and the sermon about how this was all the borrower’s fault is ringing hollow. The common man knows that other common men, like himself or his sister, did not set out to cause this much mayhem and even if they had formed such pernicious intent, they would never have known how to do it.

In the practice of law we have a doctrine that says that we can determine intent by merely looking at the result. Barring unforeseen intervening forces, the result is what the perpetrator intended no matter how well they speak of themselves and no matter how well they defend their actions. The result here in America and across the world is that millions of homeowners (more than any natural disaster or even a war) have been and are being displaced from homes they own by people they don’t know and never did business with, much less even knew about.

We have created a transient population moving from place to place one step ahead of a legal system that is stacked against them even while the public understands full well that these people were victims no less than the investors who were defrauded into buying bogus mortgage bonds, and government sponsored entities that guaranteed loans on homes and student loans without realizing that the whole thing was a lie.

The cost to world peace and prosperity will be calculated by historians long after we are all gone. But the counting has already begun. At some point the counting of who lost money and how they lost money must begin — see previous article on “The Next Step: Accounting and receivership.”

The mind-blowing conclusion they will reach is that the 11 million homes that are under water are not under water. The borrower MIGHT owe money but the HOME is not underwater because the home is not collateral for the claims being made in court.

They will realize that the foreclosures on record were never properly started, conducted or finished. They will realize that most of the collection efforts were directed at debt that no longer existed. They will pound their heads wondering how this scheme went so far when they realize that the foreclosed loans were neither in default nor owed to the entities who came, as strangers to the transaction, and initiated foreclosure because the the real investor creditor had no knowledge of the foreclosure and no idea that the homeowner was offering modification terms that far exceeded the proceeds of foreclosures.

Note to ideologists who can’t see past their ideology: We are not saying that there is anyway to discharge a debt without either paying it, setting it off with meritorious claims, or having the other party — the creditor — waive the claim explicitly and in no uncertain words. What I am saying is that the system — governed by the likes of Citi, Goldman, JPM, BOA — intentional lied to both the borrower and the investor about the value of the property and the terms of the loan. If you were defrauded you’d say you wanted your money back and the fraudster punished for their behavior.

But the real target that will make the entire foreclosure scheme dissolve into a level playing field where all sides can make any valid claim is the mortgage and whether, as Judge Grossman put it, the mortgage was ever perfected into  alien and whether subsequent actions by the participants in the securitization chain nailed that coffin shut, forever ending the right to foreclose, the right to submit a credit bid without the creditor and the right to receive a deed upon foreclosure.

The end result we all seek, Mr. or Ms. Ideology, is that the debt be subject to court scrutiny of the various claims and counterclaims by each party  just like any other lawsuit without the right to foreclose which can obviously ONLY be maintained using fabricated documents containing false declarations of fact, executed by forgery on behalf of entities without authority, agency, or other documents ratifying the actions.

At the end of such normal cases, we will have a decision on the merits as to who owes what to whom and that might be subject to a judgment lien against the borrower or the bank. But until all claims are actually heard on the merits, the borrower and the investor should have a table to speak across rather than a concrete wall hiding their respective identities.

As of now, the Banks are getting and keeping all the money we have and all the money we can print PLUS they are taking all the property we own, while the rest of the country and the rest of the world, for similar stunts, goes down the crapper. Nothing is a greater threat to our sovereignty than the death grip held by the bank oligopoly in our politics, our courtrooms, our dining rooms and our bedrooms. If these banks and services are actually owed money from the borrower then let them produce a contract in which the borrower has promised that. If these banks and servicers wish to foreclose upon the house, then make them show a valid enforceable lien. Is that so much to ask?

In our world of 85% marketing and narrative and 15% production of anything it might be hard to get these points across. But if the debts are undocumented or the liens were not perfected, then the homes should not be foreclosed and the “pretender lenders” should be required to plead a bona fide case and prove it — instead of getting the benefit of presumptions in courtrooms where Judges are not paying close enough attention.

Tinseltown, Ghost Town


Los Angeles

THE $26 billion foreclosure settlement deal announced this month arrived in the final throes of Hollywood’s annual awards season. It also arrived too late for my neighbor, a screenwriter and director who moved out of her two-bedroom house the week before last, after her bank foreclosed on the property.

There had been no “For Sale” sign, no telltale rental tenant, no evidence of anything untoward in our canyon neighborhood, an enclave of writers, directors and actors. I saw nothing until the night I stood on my front steps, my heart in my mouth, and heard her sobbing scream — “I’m 47 years old, and I am going bankrupt!”

Now she is gone, another “statistic,” as she put it when I went next door to say goodbye as the movers loaded the last of her belongings. Her eviction follows that of our mutual neighbors, actors on a well-known soap opera forced out of their house in a foreclosure in a driving rainstorm four days before Christmas. Their dark, vacant houses, emblazoned with the public notices taped in the windows like shameful scarlet A’s, are holes in the hidden, fraying social fabric of Hollywood, where a vast majority belong not to the 1 percent but to the 99.

Of the 11 million Americans under water on their homes and facing foreclosure, more than two million reside in California. None of the Hollywood guilds keep records of how many of their members are among them, but several unions and charitable performing arts foundations report an increase in members applying for emergency housing assistance. When two of my three immediate neighbors have been foreclosed on, there are undoubtedly untold screenwriters, actors, directors and others quietly, invisibly struggling to keep their homes.

Beyond the hype that culminates in the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, Hollywood is contracting, battered by the same economic forces reshaping the rest of the country. Moviegoing attendance hit a 16-year low last year. The industry is beset by rapidly changing business models: the free fall in DVD sales unmitigated by digital streaming, the independent film market that is a shadow of its former self. It all adds up to less. In Los Angeles, the number of television dramas produced last year dropped by 11.5 percent; reality shows were down 1.8 percent and sitcoms, 12.8 percent. On the feature side, the number of movies filmed here declined by an enormous 26.4 percent in the final quarter of last year.

What is less visible is the human toll of all that downsizing — the working actors, directors, writers and others like my foreclosed neighbors, trying to maintain their guild memberships, their health insurance, their mortgages. In the industry’s perverse social code, where appearances are everything, such private struggles are kept well hidden not only from public view but also within the industry itself. Failure is an affront to the accepted logic that, no matter what, Hollywood remains a lodestar of self-invention.

“People have no idea what’s going on in Hollywood now,” a prominent industry blogger told me recently when we met at what had been a favorite industry watering hole, empty that night. “There’s so little work, everyone is living off the money they made in the ’90s,” she added. “But they’re acting like nothing’s changed.”

What I heard in my neighbor’s screamed confession was the cracking of Hollywood’s social code, which insists that no matter the private terrors, one is always “great!” We are in foreclosure, we are screaming in the night, but we are awesome in the light of day and on our Facebook pages.

I wasn’t friends with my neighbor, but I have lived in Los Angeles long enough to know the accepted mores. When we said goodbye, I didn’t tell her I had heard her that night. She told me she was worn out from two years of wrangling with her bank, one of those named in the settlement deal. She was moving on, she said, moving in with a friend in some other neighborhood. In her Twitter feed, there is no mention of her foreclosure or even her move.

But I am left feeling what I feel too often now in Los Angeles, an inchoate, uneasy impermanence, where it is possible to feel untethered from even the seasons. It’s what I felt when I saw my other neighbors, the soap-opera actors, evicted with their crying child, their soaked belongings crammed into the back of a borrowed van, their dark, empty house with the holiday decorations still in the windows. It is their faces I see when I read about the foreclosure crisis and the multibillion-dollar settlement that will do nothing to restore my neighbors to their homes. Or to themselves.

They were all working professionals with many credits to their names. And they may be again. But their banks wouldn’t bet on it. And I’m not sure the town does either. People still come to Hollywood with dreams of reinventing themselves. But the reality is much crueler and not so different from that in the rest of the country, where millions do not dream of reinvention but simply long to become who they used to be: people not forced from their homes in the driving rain or crying in the night that they are going bankrupt.

On Sunday, I will watch the Academy Awards with my absent neighbors in mind. I will remind myself it is winter. But tonight I will stand on my front steps, the air sweet with night-blooming mountain laurel, and I will not hear my neighbor scream.

Hilary de Vries is an author and screenwriter.

12 Responses

  1. We too lost our home thank God that friends and family have been there for us.We have moved 4 times in 6 mo. unwilling to stay in one spot for too long and wear out our welcome.It has been intimadating at best .We are now able to come up with money to get a place of our own but that would not be possible if the many friends and family had not tried to help us achieve our goal.Communities are now recognizing how far advanced these problems are becoming.We have a 15 year old 2cats and a small dog.Not trying for sympathy just stating cold hard facts.Best of luck to all involved in this heinous crime of the century.

  2. Good luck and God speed, Bob…

  3. i to thought that way until i realized they have taken to much and now i have nothing but the roof over my head and iam fighting with all the will and knowledge i have at my disposal, and it is a lot, from people and ideas and actions in court it has in the end and beginning of the battle all out nothing held back for my back is against the wall. it is due or die, and i will not go easily. i have trained myself to represent myself and surrounded with professionsal people that have big hearts and willing to assist if ii help myself. so here iam with a adversary hearing coming up in march and trying to find the opposing side for the battle ground as elusive as it is. i keep punching, and soon will score a good hit. bob in calif. i could go on but iam searching for solutions as we speak here.

  4. Michael,

    Good luck with your project. Maybe you want to enlist the help of Mandelman and Abigail Field…

    Contact them at http://mandelman.ml-implode.com/

  5. I too am an Artist. Living in Houston, Texas. Same Here Being Foreclosed on But Im fighting Back, On One side a Feature Film, and on the Other side a Lawsuit against BOA for Wronful Foreclosure.although the Film is A Narrative, It will imply All the Facts about the Fraud and theft the banksters commited. I will post a kickstarter Page and some Sample Promo videos to gain the needed Funds for the film, but once its complete along with the Lawsuit the banks are not going to want the rest of the coutry living in a Bubble to see it…

  6. @Java,

    You are absolutely right. The reason it is taking so long for us to wake up is… stupid pride! And fear, which is nothing more that the other side of pride…

    Banks know it. Government knows it. Why do you think people who fight and win are bound by non disclosure clauses? Even gag orders have been issued against people who have been fighting.

    The name of the game is “Instill fear by any means.” Fear is what controls the masses. Fear can only go so far: when people find themselves in the situation they feared most and they realize that they can still survive regardless, they also realize that fear is nothing.

    Fight. Insist on jury trials. Do not settle. get your case out. Will there be losers? You bet! But this is the only way to get the word out. And when it is so “out” that it can no longer be ignored, something will be done by our government elect.

    The ball has been in our camp from day one…

  7. no more being ashamed of foreclosure, of being a failure, etc…..wear that foreclosure as a badge of honor and get out in front of the enemy and strength in numbers ….thats what will end this WAR (sometimes i think we are moving that way and than other times i think im kidding myself)

  8. everyone needs to lose their ego and talk of what is happening and then sticking together and fight back…..if not it will be too late

  9. Why not Tinsel Town?

    People move out. People who originally had the means to fight the good fight of faith and hope burried their heads in TV, movies and “life as usual”. The writings have been on the walls for now 7 years. For 7 years, artificial wealth based on chimeres (but serious wealth, nevertheless) has ignored this national problem. Name 1 actor, director, composer, etc. who spoke against what has been happening: the methodical and systematic stealing of people’s houses. I don’t know of one. Whether democrats or republicans makes no difference. People have not given a hoot. Now it’s their turn.

    Where were they all, all along? Why hasn’t there been one free concert fundraiser to help grandpa and grandma with their reverse mortgage atrocities? What happened to “We are the world” events that brought issues to light and raised funds? Why hasn’t one of them talked about the financial scandal? Funny how Richard Gere was so hell bent on protecting the Dalai Lama, a world away, but has remained strnagely silent about the past 7 seven years… They picked their causes. They picked the wrong ones. Now, they’re becoming a cause themselves…

    That too is what justice is all about: indifference to fellow human beings comes with a high price. Now, they’re paying it. We were good enough to revere and adulate them and they fed on that. There is no one left to revere and adulate them. Now, they have to go hungry.

    I feel sorry that it has to happen in order for people to wake up. As far as i know, they’re still asleep. It’s going to take more time. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

  10. By the way our home of 17 years that was foreclosed on was 5850 Malton ave. Simi Valley, Ca. 93063 and all properties which were illegally taken by the bank with their stories about how the banks obtained the property should be published for all perspective home buyers as they are all a part of this.

  11. Unfortunately this is happening all over the country and it not only affects the homeowner, family and friends but also the whole neighborhood. After we were evicted from our home of 17 years and moving out our neighbors came over and were crying and hugging us and were very upset that this was happening. My husband a painting contractor painted most of the neighborhood and everybody knew us and couldn’t understand how this could happen. We didn’t have a place to go our credit is pretty bad to say the least and if it were not for a wonderful friend who helped us out we would not have had a place to go too. We had our business there, our family, one dog and a desert tortoise who we had to relocate and not with us. But I chose to use this whole experience as a learning experience and we are doing well now. I told my husband we will be ok no matter what and we have a lot of blessings and that “we are not our house”. We choose not to give our power over to the banks and all who were involved. We choose to move forward and share our experience because this cannot be swept under the rug. Our previous house will be sold soon and on all the realty websites selling the house it says “not an REO and not a short sale” but does it say the truth about what really happened? NO.

  12. Unu

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