Yesterday there was quite a bit of media coverage -- in outlets such as Marketplace and the Guardian -- about the launch of a new "national movement of underwater homeowners and their allies," the Home Defenders League (HDL).
With numbers last week showing that there are more than 15 million underwater households in the U.S., this movement seems long overdue. The HDL is pushing for a well-reasoned slate of ideas to to help those who are stuggling with foreclosures and underwater mortgages, including Right to Rent, allowing homeowners to stay in their homes, after foreclosure, paying the market rent (emphasis added below):
Here's what we stand for:
Resetting of mortgages (principal reduction) to current market value
Families have the right to stay in homes, paying rent, post foreclosure
Families, post foreclosure, have the right of “first refusal” to buy back their home at real current value
A moratorium on foreclosures until due process and fairness can be ensured
This comes just a few days after news articles from California to Pennsylvania popped up about Bank of America's Mortgage to Lease pilot program, which is essentially Right to Rent as well, as noted in this statement by CEPR's Dean Baker. As BofA executive Ron D. Sturzenegger describes it:
It's good for us, it's good for the borrower and ultimately good for the community.
The news is that this pilot has started to roll out in California, and will tested in Arizona, Nevada and New York soon. A BofA spokesman says that their program will be expanded if their pilot "works out for enough borrowers" and that they expect to get some test results in 60 days. Rest assured that CEPR will be on the lookout for that!
Dean has been advocating for his Right to Rent plan for years. It's rewarding to see entities from across the spectrum -- mega-corporate Bank of America to a league of underwater homeowners -- endorse, and indeed, start to implement his idea. We can only hope it'll continue to get picked up by more mortgage-holders, advocates, and policy makers!