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Homeowner advocates laud Harris for break with mortgage settlement

September 30, 2011 |  4:19 pm

Advocates for homeowners in California applauded California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris' decision to bow out of talks aimed at reaching a national foreclosure settlement with the nation's biggest banks.

Harris has said that the proposed settlement, the product of nearly 11 months of negotiations, let the banks off too easily. She has said that her office will conduct a more rigorous investigation.

“She stayed at the table on the settlement as long as was reasonable,” said Brian Heller de Leon, a representative of PICO California, an advocacy group for homeowners. “It became clear that there was no longer a reasonable path for California to stay in these negotiations.”

Heller de Leon said the proposed settlement would only have helped a tiny minority of California homeowners.

Harris has recently come under pressure from politicians and progressive groups inside and outside the state who wanted her to reject the settlement that was being discussed by the banks and the committee of state attorneys general.

Richard Hopson, chairman of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said Friday that "a thorough investigation" is needed.

"We applaud Attorney General Harris for pulling out of this proposed 'settlement,' " Hopson said in a statement. "The banks need to pay for what they have done."

Meanwhile, Iowa Atty. Gen. Tom Miller, who has been leading the national negotiations, vowed to press on for a settlement without Harris.

His statement:

California has been an important part of our team and has made a significant contribution to this case. However, the multistate effort is pressing forward and we fully expect to reach a settlement with the banks. This multistate is about foreclosures and mortgage servicing abuse, and we are 100% focused on providing relief to homeowners while it can still make a difference and save homes from foreclosure. Providing relief after the foreclosure crisis is over would be a hollow victory indeed. Individual states are situated differently and after a settlement is reached it will be provided to all 50 states so that each Attorney General can make a decision on whether or not to join.

RELATED:

California bows out of probe of mortgage lenders

Kamala Harris a key player in settlement over mortgage crisis

Kamala Harris explains decision to exit mortgage settlement talks

-- Nathaniel Popper

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