Homeowners and Community Activists Travel to San Antonio, TX to Demand Accountability from Wells Fargo

ADVOCATES WILL HOST PRESS CONFERENCE AT LOCAL WELLS FARGO BRANCH AND PRESENT SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTION ON MORTGAGE SERVICING ABUSES AT WELLS’ SHAREHOLDER MEETING

San Antonio, Texas: April 28, 2014: For the second year in a row, Wells Fargo Bank moved its annual shareholder meeting outside of its hometown of San Francisco, California in a bid to avoid attention over its foreclosure, mortgage servicing and other predatory practices. Homeowners and community activists followed the bank to San Antonio, Texas to demand Wells stop abusive mortgage servicing, foreclosure, and other harmful practices.

Advocates will present a shareholder referendum at the shareholder meeting requiring Wells to conduct an independent review of the bank’s internal controls to ensure that its mortgage and foreclosure practices are not violating fair housing and fair lending laws. The referendum gained 21% of shareholder votes in 2013.

Homeowners and advocates will hold a press conference on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 11:00AM, in front of a nearby Wells Fargo branch, located at: 10659 Culebra Rd San Antonio, TX, 78251.

Roxanna Zamora, a homeowner from Whittier, California, is travelling to the meeting to try to save her home where she lives with her two children. She reached out to Wells seeking help from the bank after the end of her marriage and a battle with cancer caused the mortgage on her family’s home of 20 years to fall behind:

“I was met with a total lack of sympathy for my situation, and an unwillingness from Wells Fargo to work with me,” Zamora says. Even after successfully completing trial modifications and working with non-profit groups, Zamora is fighting her foreclosure. She has launched a petition and travelled to Texas with the help of a national community group called the Home Defenders League. “What I need is for Wells Fargo to give me a fresh start- a fair loan modification that reduces my principal and interest, and removes the years of added fees and arrears that have accumulated while I've been in this fight.”

Community organizations are also protesting the bank facilitating investments in private prison and immigrant detention centers through its mutual funds, and the bank up-selling costly bank products to new and existing customers, a practice recently exposed in an LA Times investigation. Advocates are also calling on the bank to provide affordable repayment plans for their customers who have direct deposit advance loans (similar to payday loans) and to stop financing payday and other high-cost, predatory lenders.

Paulina Gonzalez, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained the need for the fair lending audit in the shareholder referendum:

“Housing counselors across California who help homeowners avoid foreclosure cited Wells Fargo as the hardest servicer to work with for a second year in a row. Communities of color are especially impacted by bad loan servicing, as documented by a new GAO report, which found differences in outcomes relating to trial modifications, cancelations and re-default rates for Limited English Proficient and African American borrowers.”

Peter Skillern, Executive Director of Reinvestment Partners, based in Durham, North Carolina added:

"Reinvestment Partners' experience as a housing counseling agency is the basis for our demand of Wells Fargo to improve its mortgage services. Single point of contacts often do not return phone calls and we have not had a single client who has had principle reduction in a loan modification. We support an independent audit of Wells Fargo's mortgage servicing operations."

Josh Zinner, co-director of New Economy Project, based in New York City, explained:

“Wells Fargo was the most profitable U.S. bank in 2013, and has received hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts and tax subsidies. Meanwhile, the bank’s abusive mortgage servicing practices continue to cause harm to families and communities across the country, particularly in communities of color. Wells Fargo must be held accountable.”

CONTACTS:
Josh Zinner, New Economy Project: 718-290-6389 josh@neweconomynyc.org
Peter Skillern, Reinvestment Partners: 919-667-4201 peter@reinvestmentpartners.org
Laquita Garcia, Texas Organizing Project: 972-342-5116 lgarcia@organizetexas.org
Kevin Whelan, Home Defenders League: 612–414-9731 kevin@homedefendersleague.org
(Kevin can speak to the 20 similar events happening around the country)

Additional Context

  • The New Economy Project will bring testimonials from four New York homeowners who have been hurt by the bank’s mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.

Events are planned in more than 20 cities on Monday April 28th and Tuesday, April 29th, demanding an end to Wells Fargo’s predatory lending and abusive foreclosure practices. Community and labor groups, families facing unjust foreclosure and current and former Wells Fargo employee will rally, distribute flyers and deliver petitions. A partial event list is available here: http://bit.ly/forecloseonwellsfargo

The Day of Action to Hold Wells Fargo Accountable is sponsored by: San Antonio Cesar Chavez Education and Legacy Fund, Texas Organizing Project, New Economy Project, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, California Reinvestment Coalition, Reinvestment Partners, SEIU South Southwest, Occupy Our Homes, Home Defenders League, Make the Road Action Fund, Common Law NYC, and Foreclosure Resisters.

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