A little after 1:30pm today Arturo de los Santos, a former marine who is fighting to save his home, was arrested in the lobby of a major downtown LA office building where Freddie Mac has its LA office. His wife and four young children stood by his side until the police made them leave the building. An angry crowd of 60 or more struggling homeowners with the ACCE Home Defenders League took over the building lobby, demanding that Freddie Mac negotiate with Art and his family. Another 100 supporters rallied outside. Here is the press release with background that went out today:
BACKGROUND (From noon press release)
Joined by his wife, four kids, and other supporters, Art de los Santos sets up a table and chairs inside the bank and demands to meet with an authorized Freddie Mac rep.
Days after the nation’s largest banks acknowledge mistakes, group joins Marine Arturo de los Santos, wife, and four children in demanding to know why Freddie Mac has refused to work with him and others that were denied loan modifications
LOS ANGELES – On Thursday, February 16, hundreds of homeowners and supporters from across Southern California will accompany Riverside homeowner and Marine Arturo de los Santos and family in a demonstration at the West Coast headquarters of government-owned mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The group will demand to know why the company won’t consider De los Santos and the 60% of American homeowners with loans backed by Freddie and Fannie Mae for reasonable loan modifications or principal reduction. Event leaders will cite Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s failure to participate in last week’s landmark settlement between 49 states and the five largest private banks to address problems in the foreclosure crisis.
Art, along with a supporter from the organization Military Families Speak Out, will risk arrest by setting up a table and chairs in the company’s lobby and refusing to leave until an authorized Freddie Mac representative comes down to negotiate a loan modification.
Art and leaders of the protest will demand accountability for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, citing a number of recent issues:
-Freddie Mac’s consistent refusal to consider loan modifications for millions of homeowners with loans owned by the company – including those who likely qualify for the federal government’s own Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
-an executive pay scandal resulting in this year’s agreed-upon resignation by Freddie CEO Charles “Ed” Haldeman. Haldeman has refused to consider lowering his own total compensation of about $6 million in 2011 or that of his top executives, while arguing that the company can’t afford to work with at-risk working-class homeowners.
-the revelation this month that Freddie Mac has been investing in mortgage-backed securities that paid the company millions of dollars when homeowners weren’t able to refinance to lower rates, creating an apparent massive conflict of interest for the company charged with promoting responsible and affordable homeownership.
“Freddie Mac is charged with working to promote homeownership for the public good, and instead they are clearly looking out for the needs of the 1%,” said ACCE leader Peggy Mears. “While Ed Haldeman and his cronies get rich off the backs of their own customers like Arturo de los Santos, it is especially outrageous that scandal after scandal goes by and they get off the hook. It’s time that they sat down with Art and negotiated a loan modification, and it’s time for accountability for their role in the mortgage crisis now.”
Thursday’s protest is being organized by ACCE with the support of a number of additional organizations.