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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Holly Petraeus Meet with Troops, Discuss California Homeowner Bill of Rights

Friday, May 18, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Holly Petraeus, Director of the Office of Service Member Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), today met with Airmen and their families to discuss the financial difficulties they face, especially as they relate to the foreclosure crisis.

California has the largest population of military members, reservists and veterans and is the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. Attorney General Harris formed a working group last year to explore scams and other predatory conduct uniquely targeting servicemembers.

Attorney General Harris is proposing the California Homeowner Bill of Rights in order to fix California’s broken mortgage process and extend to all borrowers many of the same reforms included in the recent national mortgage settlement. The legislation builds on the national mortgage settlement, which secured enhanced protections for active-duty and veteran homeowners, in addition to bringing an historic $18 billion in relief to California homeowners and foreclosure victims.

“Our servicemembers, veterans and their families have made tremendous sacrifices for all of us,” said Attorney General Harris. “It is our obligation to do right by them and make sure they have the tools they need to protect their homes, their families and their future.”

“I commend Attorney General Harris’ work to address the unique financial challenges military personnel face,” Petraeus said. “Military homeowners experience frequent moves and deployments, and it’s important that mortgage servicers recognize and respond to their special circumstances. Servicemembers put their lives in jeopardy to serve our country, and in return we owe them strong consumer protections.”

The National Mortgage Settlement protect those in the military by requiring banks to provide specially-trained points of contact to servicemembers and give special consideration for loan modifications and other relief to servicemembers who are required to relocate to a new duty station.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights would require banks to notify servicemembers of their rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act before filing a foreclosure. Under that Act, servicemembers are eligible for various mortgage-related protections, including a capped interest rate and possible deferment of payments.

Military families are especially vulnerable to mortgage-related abuses for a variety of reasons. Deployments and emergencies lead to unplanned and unique financial difficulties; servicemembers are often victims of marketing preying on their loyalty and patriotism; frequent relocation can make it difficult to sell a home; and foreclosure or other debt can lead to loss of security clearance and position.

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