On Tuesday, March 12th a report was released documenting the devastating impact on homeowners, communities and the economy unless Wells Fargo reverses its course and averts some or all of their impending foreclosures. The report, California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline Is Damaging Local Communities, was written by ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), the Center for Popular Democracy and the Home Defenders League.

Despite heavy advertising dollars by Wells Fargo to influence public opinion and shut down public pressure on their legacy of predatory and discriminatory lending and failure to rebuild hardest hit communities in California, most of the major Bay Area news agencies covered the report. One particularly good article was on KQED entitled Wells Fargo Blamed for Hampering California Economy.

Armed with new findings from the State Monitors own findings, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, over 25 retired city employees and members of ACCE attended the City’s Public Employee Retirement System (SFERS) monthly board meeting for the third time this year to present this report and to request that the Board hear a resolution introduced by Commissioners Malia Cohen and Herb Meiberger to have SFERS follow its own socially responsible investment policy. The Public Employees goals are to have SFERS apply this policy to the three major banks that SFERS currently holds investments in, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase.

A dozen retirees whose pension depends on SFERS investments testified around how Wells Fargo has impacted their retirement, family and community. Despite opposition to moving a resolution forward by SFERS Commissioner and Wells Fargo’s Community Relations Director, Brenda Wright, Commissioners agreed to calendar the item for April 17th.

Many of the community members and retirees who testified cited years of wrong doing by Wells Fargo evidenced by complaints from the Department of Justice, former Assessor Recorder Phil Ting’s Report numerous foreclosure process violations, and a recent AARP report showing the disproportionate percentage of foreclosures impacting seniors. Commissioner Wright repeatedly claimed there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Wells Fargo, her current employer.

“I am outraged that my retirement board that holds investments in banks that are foreclosing on my neighbors,” stated Molly Martin, a retired city employee. “I also find it a conflict of interest for a person who works for Wells Fargo to sit on this board and use her influence on my retirement funds investments to benefit her employer.”

Following Wednesdays SFERS progress, on Thursday dozens of homeowners and supporters joined single mom, Betty Badro in confronting Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf at a banker’s conference on the day before her home of 19 years is scheduled to be foreclosed. Ms. Badro, who has worked for the State of California for 22 years, attempted to deliver a personal check to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf while he was giving a keynote address at the American Banker Retail Lending Conference at a luxury beach resort hotel in Carlsbad, California.

Picture of Betty Badro confronting John Stumpf:http://bit.ly/ZDan9A
Video of protest: http://youtu.be/LEwpc1XL4r4

Betty has spent months attempting to get Wells Fargo to consider her for a loan modification. Betty lives with her disabled brother and one of her two children, and suffered recent financial setbacks due to state furloughs and personal health issues. Her finances have now recovered, a HUD-certified housing counselor has reviewed her case, and believes that Ms. Badro qualifies for a loan modification.

Ms. Badro took the stage, shook hands with Mr. Stumpf, and proceeded to explain that his bank was poised to take her home the next day. She told Mr. Stumpf that she can afford the mortgage and had a check in hand that she was asking him to accept. Not saying another word, Mr. Stumpf turned his back on Ms. Badro and left the stage.The group of homeowners took over the stage and made a presentation outlining how Wells Fargo has failed the community and the changes that Wells Fargo should make in their foreclosure practices.

“I’ve been working hard all my life,” says Betty Badro, member of ACCE. “I have income, I want to pay my mortgage, I just want a modification with principal reduction so that I can stay in my home. It is everything to me. John Stumpf and Wells Fargo are raking in money – they just had their most profitable year ever - but they're profiting off the homes and livelihoods of American families."

The event was organized by the ACCE Home Defenders League; and included the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Home Defenders League, and Occupy Fights Foreclosures.
Thursday’s event was part of a broader campaign of ACCE and the Home Defenders League to push Wells Fargo to change their practices in order to reduce foreclosures. The groups are calling on Wells Fargo to:
• Make principal reduction a core front-end strategy when considering loan modifications, (when Wells has the legal authority to do so);
• Release data on race & income of the homeowners they foreclose on, evict or assist.
• Stop all foreclosures and evictions stop until these steps are put into place.

Wells Fargo has been given until the end of March to Respond to the above three demands and finally begin to rebuild our communities. To get involved or tell your story about problems with Wells Fargo, please email sfacce@calorganize.org.

ACCE is a statewide community organization of low and moderate income families and is a statewide anchor of the national Home Defenders League – a network of homeowners fighting back against Wall Street to save their homes. ACCE was a leader in pushing for the passage of the groundbreaking Homeowner Bill of Rights, passed in California in 2012, and along with the state Home Defenders League has saved thousands of families from foreclosures and evictions and has won tens of millions of dollars in principal reduction for families to reinvest in their communities.