SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Labeling Senate Bill 1137 as an "urgent" bill may speed up help for troubled California families facing the loss of their homes.
The California State Senate passed the foreclosure relief bill on April 28 that backers say has the potential of preventing more than one million foreclosures. The bill requires a two-thirds majority in the state Assembly to pass and, if signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), would go into effect immediately.
The bill grew out of efforts of the community group, ACORN, which sponsored a Foreclosure Solutions Forum on Dec. 3 that drew several key legislators, including Senate President Pro Temp Don Perata (D-East Bay), along with more than 250 community members. Perata kept the bill "urgent" to avoid it having to remain idle until January 2009.
The ACORN discussions led to the introduction of SB 926, which failed in the Senate on Jan. 30, just one vote short of passing, but the bill's sponsors kept pushing for a legislative fix, later introducing Senate Bill 1137, which just passed. The bill requires that lenders meet with homeowners to discuss loan modifications before filing a notice of default.
The bill would fight blight from spreading in foreclosed neighborhoods by imposing penalties on banks that allow foreclosed properties to fall into disrepair. Other provisions provide that tenants must be given 60 days notice prior to eviction from a property that has been foreclosed on, and when rental properties are put up for sale, tenants must get notice in several languages.
"This legislation would immediately help families all across California who are suffering in the crisis," said Sacramento ACORN State Foreclosure Liaison John Crenshaw.
Putting a personal face on the foreclosure crisis, ACORN's efforts to pass Senate Bill 926 included introducing the legislation on Dec. 20 at the Oakland home of ACORN member Dorothy Hicks, who had previously faced foreclosure. Hicks was able to save her home by working out a loan modification, but she continued to work with ACORN to offer help keep other families. Perata and Sens. Ellen Corbett and Mike Machado came to Hicks' home to announce the introduction of the bill they sponsored.
When SB 926 failed in the senate, the bill's sponsors promised to keep pushing for legislative solutions and later introduced Senate Bill 1137.