Va. Residents Demand More Support From Banks
The foreclosure crisis is striking Prince William County, Va. particularly hard and homeowners there are demanding banks work with the community to stem the tide.
Homeowners in Woodbridge are furious with big banks. Many families report that banks have lost their payment information or their mortgage papers, yet the financial institutions still proceed with foreclosures anyway. On top of that, 6,000 families are behind on their mortgage payments, even though interest rates are at historic lows.
"It's a shame. People losing their homes," says Roosevelt Bowman, a deacon at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Woodbridge. "And basically what the banks are doing, they seem to be getting richer and the people are getting poorer."
President Obama has ordered federal mortgage agencies to help underwater homeowners refinance their homes. But there are problems with that plan, according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). The federal bureaucracy is slowing down that process, and it won't reach all homeowners, he says.
The foreclosure crisis is so widespread that Warners believes Congress may actually be able to set aside partisan bickering to allow more homeowners to refinance their mortgages.
"We're going to need to look both individually, at sorting through individual cases, but we're going to have to look at policy choices," Warner says. "You know, I think this could actually be an area where there could be agreement."
Community members in Prince William County want more money for housing counselors who can often help homeowners that have fallen behind on their mortgages get out of a bind. They also want banks to view foreclosures as a last resort, instead of leaving communities littered with vacant properties.