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The Treasury is expected to announce a new plan tomorrow to address the foreclosure mess. Efforts so far have done little to stop millions of people from losing their homes. Over the past several days, some of those people have been protesting outside the homes of bank industry executives in New York and Connecticut. NPR's Chris Arnold has that story.
CHRIS ARNOLD: Things don't get very loud or crazy too often in the superexclusive neighborhoods of Westchester County, New York. So it got definitely got people coming out of their homes to see what was going on Sunday when a housing group brought in 50 van loads and two tour buses full of upset homeowners. They came to vent frustration at Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack.
Unidentified Group: (unintelligible) loans, so we can save our homes.
ARNOLD: About 300 homeowners, some with bullhorns, marched past the police cruiser, up the driveway and to the front door of the mansion where John Mack lives.
Unidentified Man: John? Where are you, John?
BRUCE MARKS: This guy, he has a net worth over $400 million. Look at his house. He gets lost in his own house. It's so outrageous.
ARNOLD: Bruce Marks is the housing advocate behind this predators tour, as he calls it. He is singling out big Wall Street executives personally to try to pressure them to do more to help homeowners facing foreclosure.
MARKS: Well, it's Sunday and it's family day, and we're bringing our family to his family.
ARNOLD: John Mack himself didn't have a comment, but Morgan Stanley says its mortgage servicing company is working with Marks' group to help qualified borrowers to stay in their homes. But a lot of homeowners here say they're just not getting any help.
NICK FRESOLONE: Nick Fresolone, and I'm from Vineland, New Jersey.
NICOLE FRESOLONE: I'm Nicole Fresolone from New Jersey.
ZARINA FRESOLONE: I'm Zarina Fresolone from New Jersey.
ARNOLD: The Fresolones drove four hours to come here for the protest and to seek help at a foreclosure prevention workshop that this non-profit's running.
FRESOLONE: You know, I have four kids. They love the home. We just want a fair payment.
ARNOLD: Nick Fresolone is a corrections officer. In 2007, he and his wife Tanya together were making close to $100,000 a year, and they bought a house that they thought they could afford for $350,000. They put money down.
TANYA FRESOLONE: And we did it the legal way...
FRESOLONE: Yeah. We did everything the right way.
FRESOLONE: ...with proof of income and pay stubs and everything.
ARNOLD: But the Fresolones say they got scammed by a mortgage broker. They say they were promised a loan with $2,500 payments. In fact, they got a much higher interest rate with payments above $3,500 a month. Nick says at the closing, he realized that the payments were too high, but he was told he would lose his big down payment if he didn't sign.
FRESOLONE: If you wait, you know, 10 years to buy a home, you put $20,000 - which is every penny that we had at the time - into our dream and have somebody swindle us at the closing table, I felt taken advantage of, lied to and I felt cheated.
ARNOLD: Fresolone says the mortgage broker shut down. He has missed payments and can't refinance. His loan is now being managed by Wells Fargo. Economists say that the Fresolones are the sort of people who could stay in their homes if there was a better system for fixing all of the bad loans that were approved in recent years. Companies have pledged to try to do that, but in the vast majority of cases, it's not happening.
FRESOLONE: When you ask for the loan modification people, they give you a name and a fax number. That's it.
ARNOLD: Fresolone says he faxes in the paperwork, but then never hears anything back. But the counselors at this NACA event have better contacts with the lenders. They're documenting homeowners income and making direct proposals to lower their payments. And a lot of the lenders are cooperating. The group says it's restructured more than 25,000 loans over the past year. This is the kind of thing that some economists would like to see on a much larger scale. But there are all kinds of people at this event, and some of them, it's a little harder to see as victims.
CHRIS DONAGHY: I was two months out of college, and they gave me 465,000 bucks. So...
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
ARNOLD: Chris Donaghy is a structural engineer who makes about $40,000 a year. He clearly could not afford the house that he bought. And he got the loan from IndyMac Bank, which collapsed last year from making so many bad loans.
DONAGHY: Every single other bank in the country told me no. Wisely, you know, wisely they told me no.
ARNOLD: What were you thinking? You know, you make $40,000 a year. You bought a $465,000 house.
DONAGHY: Yeah. Well, you know what? And there's some complicity there, and...
ARNOLD: Still, Donaghy would like his payments lowered. So deciding where to draw the line on loan workouts will be a challenge as the government tries to prevent more foreclosures.
Chris Arnold, NPR News.
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