Washington, D.C. -- Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada's Third District sent the following letter to Treasury Secretary Geithner today on a recent visit by Assistant Secretary Allison to District Three. In the letter, Titus calls for more "sticks" to make housing programs more effective. Titus has been sending monthly letters to the administration on the foreclosure crisis in Southern Nevada.
Below is the text of the letter.
September 16, 2010
The Honorable Timothy Geithner
Secretary - Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary Geithner,
As you know, Assistant Secretary Herb Allison travelled to Southern Nevada on August 20th to meet with homeowners and see firsthand the impact that the foreclosure crisis is having on District 3. I am very appreciative that he was able to travel to my Congressional District and meet directly with homeowners. I am confident that this visit provided him with a valuable perspective on the true impact of the current economic downturn in the areas that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis and that this perspective will be helpful as we continue to develop and implement tools to combat the continuing crisis. I hope that you will be able to make a similar trip to Southern Nevada in the near future.
During the roundtable discussion with homeowners trying to modify their loans, housing counselors, and realtors, the issue raised most frequently was the attitude and actions of the big Wall Street Banks. Homeowner after homeowner shared horror stories of trying to work with their lenders to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Lost paperwork, unreturned phone calls, endless phone transfers, and hang-ups were some of the most common stories. As you know, Wall Street banks owe their current livelihood to the taxpayers and yet they appear unwilling to work with families to enable them to stay in their homes and strengthen our communities.
My Congressional office has worked with over 1,000 homeowners who have been trying to modify their loans. While my staff is able to quickly escalate cases with loan modification officers, my concern remains with the thousands of homeowners in Southern Nevada and millions around the country who continue to be treated unfairly and inappropriately by Wall Street banks.
I have heard the excuse that many of these institutions lacked the infrastructure to work with homeowners and modify loans. Wall Street banks can do better, but for some reason choose not to and aim to hide their practices from government officials and the media. At the roundtable, one homeowner shared the story of her most recent communication with her bank, just prior to attending the roundtable. She mentioned to one of the bank's employees that she would soon be meeting with government officials, including Assistant Secretary Allison. Moments later, the homeowner received a phone call from a senior manager at the bank offering to modify her loan immediately if the homeowner agreed not to share her story. The homeowner felt so strongly that her experiences must be shared with the government that she bravely declined the offer and told her story to Assistant Secretary Allison.
I write to you today to again ask you to develop and implement effective sanctions on the Wall Street banks that are refusing to help Main Street. We have provided numerous "carrots" but lack the necessary "sticks" to ensure that these programs will be effective. More pressure must be exerted to force banks to improve customer services and loan modification efforts.
I look forward to working with you on this important issue.
Member of Congress
Cc: The Honorable Herbert Allison, Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability and Counselor to the Secretary, Department of the Treasury