This morning, a group of 75 clergy, faith leaders, and homeowners from five counties across Florida converged on the state Capitol in Tallahassee to hold a prayer vigil outside the office of Attorney General Pam Bondi, to urge her to stop siding with the Wall Street banks and drop her opposition to a provision in the 50-state Attorneys General settlement that would help underwater homeowners in the state reduce their mortgage debt.
Vigil organizers set-up a fake “moral hazard” work zone outside of AG Bondi’s office to tell the Attorney General that she is fostering moral hazard by continuing to make responsible Florida homeowners bear the full brunt of the cost of a housing bubble and bust that big Wall Street banks fueled and profited from. According to Zillow, forty-seven percent of Florida mortgage holders are underwater.
“Attorney General Bondi wants homeowners of Florida to believe that she is defending them by saying that reducing mortgage principal would create a ‘moral hazard’ while she watches families drown in their mortgages,” testified Rev. Errol Thompson, pastor of New Fellowship Baptist Church in Orlando and a leader in today’s vigil.
In March, Bondi co-signed a letter to Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading the 50-state probe of banks’ fraudulent foreclosure practices, in which she argued that reducing the amount that an underwater homeowner owes on their mortgage could foster “moral hazard.” See the letter at http://bit.ly/gcsZK8
The faith leaders who organized today’s event – who felt well-versed in the language of morals – argued that homeowners across the state are doing everything they can to keep paying their mortgages, and that it is the big Wall Street banks that are encouraging moral hazard by requiring homeowners to fall behind in their payments in order to get any assistance.
Clergy and homeowners from PICO United Florida – a state coalition of congregations that organized today’s event – had made repeated attempts to meet with the Attorney General to discuss their concerns. Clergy and faith leaders lined up to offer prayer and testimony about the devastating effects of foreclosure on their communities.
“I voted for Pam Bondi because she vowed to go after the banks,” testified Ray Mercado, a disabled veteran who is $100,000 underwater on his mortgage and facing possible foreclosure. “But now I see that she wants to protect the banks from having to pay their fair share to clean up the mess they created. In my book she is talking with ‘forked tongue’.”
PICO United Florida is a member of the PICO National Network and a part of a national effort of homeowners, clergy, workers and community leaders pressing for a strong settlement against the nation’s largest mortgage servicers for fraudulent foreclosure practices (www.CrimeShouldntPay.com, www.NewBottomLine.com).