Chase Backlash: 1,000 Homeowners Protest at Bank's Manhattan HQ

An estimated 1,000 representatives of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) paid a visit on Monday morning to JPMorganChase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon. Carrying signs reading "Chase Get On the Bus," "Chase Say Yes," and "Don't CHASE Us Out of Our Homes," the protesters briefly occupied the lobby of 1 Chase Plaza, in New York's financial district, where the company has offices.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%

NACA, a Boston-based nonprofit advocacy group that helps troubled borrowers renegotiate their home mortgages, has gained national attention for its high-profile public protests. The group, which has a stated goal of building "strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership," works with lower-income homeowners to purchase homes or refinance so-called "predatory" mortgages.

NACA has signed agreements with Chase, Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C), whereby the four lenders have consented to work with borrowers to lower mortgage payments and enroll them in long-term fixed-rate mortgages. But Chase, Monday's protesters claim, has reneged on its agreement.

A Broken Promise?

A brief altercation at the headquarters occurred when Chase employees tried to lock the building's revolving doors, effectively barring the protesters from the building, says Bruce Marks, CEO of NACA. Approximately 700 NACA representatives gathered in the building's lobby, Marks says, while as many as 400 more waited outside, until New York Police Department officers arrived and asked the protesters to leave. (One protester noted the officers' politeness: "I live in Brooklyn. The police are a lot nicer in Manhattan.")

Chase disagrees with NACA's assessment that it has broken a promise. The bank claims that it has modified 568,000 troubled mortgages this year, 199,000 of them through the Obama administration's mortgage-assistance program, the Home Affordable Modification Program. But the Treasury Department reports that JPMorganChase had only enrolled 143,027 households in HAMF through November. And HAMF only offers a three-month modification, not a permanent solution; the entire HAMF program has only led to 31,382 permanent mortgage modifications.

Saving the Dream

Part of the problem may be a matter of definition: Chase's claim that it has modified mortgages to help keep customers in their homes may be absolutely true. But by NACA's definition, the lender's activities may not be sufficient to guarantee the long-term security of its borrowers.

NACA had planned Monday's sit-in for two or three days, says Marks, who notes that many members were already in New York for the Save the Dream Tour, a mortgage-assistance event, at Manhattan's Javits Convention Center. Citing President Obama's recent statements about the "fat cats" in the banking industry, Marks says that NACA's protest "in the belly of the beast" was meant to augment Obama's words.

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Well, I can personally attest to the fact that Chase's idea of a modification is FAR from anything set forth in FHA-HAMP or HAM Guidelines. In the 23 months I've been working with Chase to obtain a modification, even though my loan is FHA, ALL they've offered me is their "in-house mod" which they refer to as a CHAMP. According to various Chase employees, some directly from "Mr. Dimon's exec. offces," "all HUD will allow us to do is CHAMP. That's all. Accept it or we'll liquidate." I've also been told by a member of the exec. offices (an old WAMU office in Jacksonville, FL), "even though you applied for a HAMP, FHA-HAMP, we didn't even consider you for it because we don't do those. Just our CHAMP." On top of all of this, Chase added over 60K in fees, interest, etc. to the UPB of my loan. The payment is STILL well above 31% of my monthly gross income. The woman at the exec. office told me, "that's because you added your child support in as income so your income is too high for the gov, programs." Here's the problem with her statement: She and another exec. team member (I won't use their names), both from the Jacksonville, FL office, told me it was MANDATORY for me to include child support "in order for your income to come close to qualifying." The list of delays caused by the "misplacement of docs" by Chase is endless. They asked for docs they claimed to be "mandatory" that they're NOW telling me don't matter. It's ridiculous and merely an endless ploy to gain Chase MORE revenue at the homeowners' expense. To be told numerous times, "you're the ideal candidate for HAMP/FHA-HAMP," is a flat out stall tactic. Mr. Dimon's employees give homeowners misleading and false statements, cause unecessary & unethical delays in the modification process, and DO NOT want to keep "deserving homeowners in their homes."

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December 17 2010 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cghlnmaur's comment

Push back against banks by homeowners has already started and more is coming.

December 17 2010 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply