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FACE Maui leading the fight on foreclosure reform

March 10, 2011
Lahaina News
According to FACE (Faith Action for Community Equity) Maui, many island families face a crisis.

Homeowners are in foreclosure or at risk of losing their homes.

If you need help and advice, FACE Maui is holding a meeting today, Thursday, March 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kihei Lutheran Church and Saturday, March 12, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina.

All community members are welcome to bring their family members, neighbors and friends who may need help with a mortgage situation. Another reason to attend is to join FACE to seek public remedies for the foreclosure crisis in Hawaii and on Maui.

FACE will have professional housing counselors available to arrange meetings with families.

According to the group — which includes West Siders from Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Maria Lanakila Catholic Church, Lahaina United Methodist Church, Honolua United Methodist Church and the Save Honolua Coalition — Maui leads the state in the number of foreclosures and homeowners at risk of default.

An obvious factor is the recession. Another is the real estate frenzy from 2004-07, when properties ballooned artificially in value, residents bought homes they couldn’t truly afford and lenders fast-tracked loans that shouldn’t have been approved.

The problems and controversy continue today, with evidence that piles of foreclosure actions were approved without review and signed without a notary present.

“I think that the homeowners out there need some relief as we go through and start doing some investigations in terms of ‘robo-signing’ and some of the other issues that have come up with some of the Mainland banks,” said South Maui Rep. George Fontaine during a recent meeting with residents.

FACE has served as a strong voice for homeowners at the Hawaii Legislature, where several bills on foreclosure are moving through hearings. Members have the support of Sen. Roz Baker and Senate President Shan Tsutsui, as well as Representatives Angus McKelvey, Gil Keith-Agaran and Mele Carroll, who serve on key committees.

FACE backs bills requiring in-person, mandatory mediation for lenders with struggling homeowners, as well as a moratorium on foreclosures until a mediation process can be established for Hawaii. In Nevada, a similar program decreased the number of foreclosures by almost 50 percent.

FACE leaders also traveled to Oahu last month to meet with the state Attorney General. Members are exploring coordinated legal action against a national bank and investigating claims of illegal and fraudulent conduct.

For example, under the guise of “help” from their lenders, Maui homeowners were given advice that caused them to fall further behind and accelerated their trajectory into default and foreclosure. FACE has the documents to prove it.

For information on the meetings, or to join FACE Maui’s efforts on foreclosures, call Terri Erwin at 879-3195.

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