Foreclosure

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay wants to raise the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. But the big could run into legal problems if Gov. Jay Nixon doesn't sign a bill authorizing increases before August 28.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ political leadership will make a quick attempt to raise the city’s minimum wage, a public policy initiative they contend is economically and morally just.

But whether the city possesses the authority to raise its minimum wage is something of a moving target – and could depend on whether a bill that many Democrats despise is enacted into law.

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, and Rep. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, meet the press after the House adjourned for the year in May. Both men voted to dissolve foreclosure mediation ordinances in 2013.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Republicans aren’t often compared to Russian communists. But that’s what happened recently after GOP members of the Missouri House helped pass legislation pre-empting cities from banning plastic bags, raising minimum wages or requiring certain work benefits. House Minority Leader Jake Hummel accused his Republican colleagues in a statement of believing that “Soviet-style central state planning is superior to local control.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Gov. Jay Nixon let legislation wiping out foreclosure mediation ordinances in St. Louis and St. Louis County go into effect without his signature. It’s a move that effectively nullifies a major priority of housing advocacy organizations – and the region’s two top political leaders.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Although foreclosures still account for one in five U.S. residential sales, the numbers continued to decrease in the first quarter of 2013, and short sales were also declining, according to an online marketer of foreclosed properties.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When state Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick tweeted earlier this month that this year’s veto session would be “interesting,” he may have made the understatement of the year.

The Shell Knob Republican’s quip was a more than tacit acknowledgement that the Missouri General Assembly sent numerous bills to Gov. Jay Nixon that might not meet his favor, including legislation restricting deduction of union dues to a broad-based tax cut.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The effort in the Missouri legislature to abolish local foreclosure mediation ordinances, such as those in St. Louis and St. Louis County, had all the right kind of legislative momentum.

State Rep. Stanley Cox and House Majority John Diehl's legislation had unchallenged support from Republican legislators. It was a major priority for the state's banking and real estate industry, two powerful and influential interest groups that opposed the ordinances in St. Louis County and St. Louis. And some Democratic legislators in the Missouri House supported it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Senate sent legislation to Gov. Jay Nixon aimed at abolishing the foreclosure mediation ordinances in St. Louis County and St. Louis, constituting a major blow to the programs.

State Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, and House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town and Country, sponsored legislation to “pre-empt” foreclosure mediation programs in counties or cities.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On Tuesday, Steven Peterson of Belleville received a check for $2,000 -- his portion of a $3.6 billion settlement reached earlier this year between lenders and federal regulators that replaced a failed foreclosure review process.

"I would call it a down payment on justice,’’ said Peterson, whose mortgage struggles started when he was laid off in 2009. "We’ll see if they want to pay the rest of the tab. I know I already have.’’

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley told reporters that he will do what it takes to stop state legislation to nullify the county’s foreclosure mediation ordinance.

“I think it’s a bad decision. I think St. Louis County is doing what’s in the best interest of St. Louis County,” Dooley said. “I’m always going to find myself doing what is the best interest of St. Louis County. This council indicated they wanted this bill for mediation for its constituency, which was hurt severely in the foreclosure debacle. And that’s where I stand.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - A bill that would effectively nullify foreclosure mediation ordinances in St. Louis and St. Louis County is on its way to the Senate.

State Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, and House Majority Leader John Diehl, R-Town & Country, sponsored legislation to “pre-empt” foreclosure mediation programs in counties or cities. The House voted by a 130-24 margin on Thursday to send the measure to the Senate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Steven Peterson of Belleville is one of 4.2 million Americans who will find out in the next few weeks how much -- if any -- compensation they will receive from their lenders after a government-ordered review of questionable foreclosure processes.

Peterson isn’t expecting much, although his mortgage servicer – PNC Mortgage – was one of 13 companies that earlier this year reached a settlement with federal banking regulators from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Bank.

(via Flickr/Images_Of_Money)

So, another week, and yet more news the U.S. housing market is slowly returning to normal.

Numbers released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department show that builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That's up from 910,000 in January. And it's the second-fastest pace since June 2008, behind December's rate of 982,000.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Illinois homeowners facing foreclosure may soon be eligible for up to $35,000 in mortgage assistance.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced that beginning April 1 the Illinois Housing Development Authority is increasing the amount eligible households may receive from the Illinois Hardest Hit program. Currently homeowners may receive $25,000.

Quinn's office says the increase will help an additional 500 families keep their homes.

The program is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Quinn says it has helped more than 7,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure since 2011.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A circuit judge slapped a temporary restraining order on St. Louis’ foreclosure mediation ordinance, effectively freezing the recently signed law for the time being.

On Tuesday, St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker ordered a 20-day hold on the ordinance, which St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay signed into law in late February. Dierker’s order barred the city “from enforcing the provisions of [the ordinance] provided that nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit voluntary participation in the program.” The Missouri Bankers Association and the Central Bank of Kansas City had sued to strike down the measure.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Updated at 4:52 p.m. to correct judge's name.

A judge in St. Louis city has halted enforcement of the city's new foreclosure mediation ordinance.

Robert Dierker issued the temporary restraining order today, which prohibits any city officials from enforcing the ordinance. Dierker does take care to note that voluntary participation in mediation is still allowed.  A hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled for March 20.

Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen met today for the last time ahead of the mayoral and aldermanic elections in March and April. Here's what came out (and didn't) of a hectic day at City Hall:

Foreclosure mediation

Aldermen sent Mayor Francis Slay a measure that would require lenders to offer homeowners foreclosure mediation. The homeowners do not have to accept, and there's no requirement to reach an agreement.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Late Wednesday afternoon Associate Circuit Judge Brenda Stith Loftin ruled that St. Louis County does have the authority to enforce a new ordinance that requires banks offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.

St. Louis County Counselor Pat Reddington said their central argument before the court was that they were not trying to regulate banks.

“We’re trying to protect our residents,' Reddington said.  "We argued, and the court found, that was in the kind of police power the county has.”  

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

A restraining order that prevents St. Louis County from enforcing a new law that would require banks to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure continues this week.

St. Louis County and bankers are in the midst of a legal battle over whether or not the county has the authority to enforce the ordinance.

No matter what happens in the court case, St. Louis City Mayor Francis Slay says the city should continue to push ahead with a similar law.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Casandra Sheperd is about to be evicted from her home in north St. Louis County.

On a recent afternoon, the soft spoken woman with an easy smile is standing in a room with 20 years’ worth of possessions stacked to the ceiling.

“Every box is hard, you know, because everything has a memory,” Sheperd says. “You know, you pack, you stack, you cry, but you keep moving."

Sheperd lost her job at an insurance company a couple of years ago and started getting behind on her mortgage payments.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

The St. Louis County Council approved additional changes to an ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.

The tweaks to the ordinance include removing the right for homeowners to sue lenders after they’ve gone through mediation, and they come in the shadow of an ongoing legal battle with lenders over whether the county even has the authority to enforce the ordinance.

Councilwoman Hazel Erby first introduced the mediation plan and is confident in the county’s case.  

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - A St. Louis County judge issued a temporary restraining order against St. Louis County's foreclosure mediation program, effectively freezing the implementation of the initiative signed into law earlier this month.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

The Missouri Bankers Association has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County over a new ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure.

The trade group’s president, Max Cook, said they plan to argue that it has a laundry list of legal problems. 

“Not the least of which is statute that says when it comes to banking laws, and rules, and regulation, no entity, be it a county, a city, what have you, can pass an ordinance or a rule more restrictive than that of the state of Missouri,” Cook said.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

A new ordinance could offer struggling St. Louis City homeowners an option to help avoid foreclosure.

The program would extend a loan mediation process to any homeowner who requests it from their bank, just like the one passed two weeks ago in St. Louis County. Ignoring this request would cost a lender a $500 fine.

But, banks claim the laws violate state statutes prohibiting government intervention into the foreclosure process.  They say it would mean fewer loans and increased costs.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay disagrees.

One of the Hoffmans' granddaughters looks across their yard toward their house.
Jaime Salas, daughter of Rick and Karen Hoffman | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 3: For Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters, foreclosure salvation came in an unlikely, roundabout way, beginning with yet another letter they didn’t understand from a government agency they had never heard of.

One of the Hoffmans' granddaughters looks across their yard toward their house.
Jaime Salas, daughter of Rick and Karen Hoffman | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 1: The story of how Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters saved their two-story American dream from foreclosure began during the nation’s financial crisis and stretched into this summer — a period roughly bookended by the 2008 presidential election and the coming one in November.

Rick Hoffman carries one of his granddaughters outside his home.
Jaime Salas, the Hoffmans' daughter | St. Louis Beacon | 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Part 2: Rick and Karen Hoffman of St. Peters, who fended off foreclosure for three years, say they are relieved they were finally able to secure an affordable mortgage modification, but they have lingering questions about the process that is intended to help struggling homeowners.

(via Flickr/taberandrew)

Lenders in St. Louis County will soon be required to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.

Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who introduced the new plan, told council members something had to be done to help slow the rate of foreclosures in the county.

“On behalf of the many families who contacted me over the last year and shared their difficult stories about losing their homes,” Erby Said. “I hope they know that this ordinance is in their honor.”

For the second week in a row, residents lined up to tell councilmembers that mandatory mediation would help save homeowners facing foreclosure.

But Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who sponsored the bill, moved to table its final passage at least until next week.

“We’re looking over some things,” Erby said.  “We just received some letters, so, we’re taking those into consideration.”

When asked, Erby didn’t specify what additional information needed to be considered.

The St. Louis County Council moved forward tonight with a bill that would require lenders to offer mediation for homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.

During a public meeting on the plan, many community members told the council that mediation may have saved them from foreclosure.

For Councilwoman Kathleen Kelly Burkett, it was personal.   She was on the edge of tears when she told the story of foreclosing on her mother’s house.  

Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who originally introduced the bill, said they have to take action now.  

St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City, wants to raise the county's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The St. Louis County Council gave initial approval to an ordinance setting up a foreclosure mediation process, an issue that drew passionate testimony from advocates of distressed homeowners and criticism from those who question the proposal's legality.

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