Monday, March 19, 2012
Harris Names UCI Professor to Oversee Mortgage Settlement
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Friday named a UC Irvine law professor to oversee implementation of the national mortgage practices settlement in the state.
Katherine Porter, who specializes in commercial and consumer law, including mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcy, is tasked with “holding the banks accountable for their commitments to the state and ensuring that the promised benefits are delivered to homeowners in full and on time,” Harris said in a statement.
California is due to receive up to $18 billion in benefits from the settlement, which is awaiting approval from a federal district judge in Washington, D.C. The agreement entered into by the federal government and state attorneys general focused on various allegations of misconduct by the lenders and mortgage servicers, notably the “robo-signing” of documents by employees who falsely claimed to have personal knowledge of facts justifying foreclosure.
“Hundreds of thousands of California homeowners will benefit from the commitments of up to $18 billion extracted from mortgage lenders,” Harris said. “We must enforce full and timely compliance with these commitments, and the appointment of Professor Porter as our California monitor is central to that enforcement. Professor Porter’s wealth of experience and knowledge will protect the interests of homeowners and ensure the settling banks deliver on their promises.”
Porter promised to “work hard to make sure banks hold up their promises to change troubling practices so that families and communities across California see the benefits of the settlement” and to try to restore public confidence in the financial institutions.
Harris explained her choice of Porter by noting that the professor authored a 2007 study that ““offered some of the first systemic evidence of the problems in mortgage servicing that harmed homeowners” and “has worked with other government entities, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on issues relating to mortgage servicing.”
The attorney general added that she is working on a number of measures apart from the settlement in order to protect homeowners.
She has asked the Legislature to pass a Homeowner Bill of Rights, which she explained “would make permanent and available to everyone the interim reforms agreed to as part of the California commitment, including a single point of contact for mortgage-holders,” along with restricting “the unfair and inherently deceptive system of dual-track foreclosures.”
Harris, who had opposed earlier settlement proposals, noted that as a result of the final agreement, there will be “a path for thousands of struggling homeowners in California to retain their homes,” while the state would still have the “ability to investigate banker crime and predatory lending.”
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company