Steve Mnuchin Refused to Tell Senator Heller About the Number of Families He Foreclosed on in Nevada: But We Will

heller-demands-answers-from-steve-mnuchin

Last week at Steve Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, Senator Dean Heller from Nevada had some tough questions for Steve Mnuchin about his bank’s track record of foreclosing on families in Nevada.

The day before, Heather McCreary, a resident of Sparks, Nevada, had shared her story about how she had jumped through all of OneWest’s hoops in order to apply for a loan modification- and had been approved.  However, OneWest later voided their modification because the McCrearys had sent in a personal check instead of certified funds. OneWest would subsequently deny their next two loan modification applications.

To translate into plain English: What should have been a simple fix with a phone call of a OneWest employee calling Heather to request a certified check instead of a personal check instead turned into a loan modification being denied and another Nevada family needlessly losing their home.

Senator Heller’s questions included:

  1. How many Nevada homes were in OneWest’s portfolio?    Mr. Mnuchin didn’t have an answer.
  2. How many Nevadans foreclose on while OneWest owned the bank? Mr. Mnuchin didn’t have an answer.
  3. How many Nevadans OneWest Bank provided assistance to through loan modifications?  Mr. Mnuchin didn’t have an answer.

Senator Heller demonstrated his frustration at having asked for this information seven different times from Mr. Mnuchin, and not getting an answer.

Senator Heller, here’s some answers for you, based on data that we obtained from PropertyRadar, analyzed by Urban Strategies Council.  And, for what it’s worth, we’ve also had a very hard time getting information from Mr. Mnuchin’s team.  When we asked about the shared loss agreement at a community meeting (where they had encouraged questions), Mr. Mnuchin refused to answer our question, which is why we had to use a Freedom of Information Act request to get it. The answer: As of December 2014, the FDIC had already paid out over $1 billion in shared loss payments to OneWest Bank, and estimated it would pay out an additional $1.4 billion before 2019. You can read more on our fact sheet: OneWest Shared Loss Agreements 

Total Foreclosures in Nevada:  3,686 (source: PropertyRadar data, analyzed by Urban Strategies Council)

Total loan modifications provided in Nevada:  In addition to Heather McCreary’s experience, there is a host of data suggesting that far fewer families got help from OneWest than they should have.

Consider:

According to HAMP data, OneWest bank declined 73% of people who asked for a HAMP loan modification (HAMP was the federal government’s main response to helping homeowners avoid foreclosure- and yet, it wasn’t very helpful for families unlucky enough to have OneWest servicing their loans).

And while Mr. Mnuchin’s PR machine has proudly touted “extending” over 100,000 loan modifications, that’s only the first step.  In other words, “extending” a loan modification offer means nothing if the bank then loses the homeowner’s paperwork when they send it back to the bank, or if the bank denies the modification because the homeowner didn’t send certified funds.

In fact, according to a Reuters analysis: 

According to data from the Treasury’s Home Affordable Modification program, OneWest extended over 101,000 offers to modify loans to help reduce monthly payments. About 28,700 of these offers were converted to “permanent” modifications under the Obama administration program from 2009 to 2013.

So, in sum, Nevada homeowners with OneWest mortgages, like homeowners in other states, faced largely bank-created obstacles to saving their homes.

If this is Mr. Mnuchin’s track record overseeing a regional bank, we can see why Senator Heller has some serious reservations about putting him in charge at Treasury Secretary

 

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