Sister and Brother Democrats,
I am writing asking for your very urgent attention. We need you to help us get to Attorney General Healey.
People don’t seem to realize that foreclosures are still going on at a historic rate. Our estimate is that 1 in 13 Massachusetts households have seen their home taken by foreclosure over the past decade, and the current rate, while perhaps a third that at the peak of this financial crisis, is still at the peak of the Great Depression in this, our eleventh year.
We have had evidence for years that most of these foreclosures were rampantly illegal. We are now able to show that many of these illegalities cross the line and are also criminal acts.
As candidate for Attorney General in 2014, Maura Healey publicly promised historic public access to her office. She also specifically and explicitly promised to support homeowners fighting foreclosure, and to make her office accessible to homeowners and their movements and advocates. Lamentably, since taking office she has a track record of slashing help to homeowners and tenants facing foreclosure and post-foreclosure evictions; and she is demonstrably allowing her staff to bend over backwards to help the mega banks and foreclosure mills override homeowner resistance and illegally take their homes. In doing so she has not only broken her promises to the voters and failed many specific legal responsibilities of her office; she has profoundly failed to uphold one of the three “inalienable rights” specified in the Massachusetts Constitution – the right to property – by helping foreign corporations take people’s homes illegally.
This could be the A.G.’s Achilles Heel. I think Democrats must talk to her urgently. As Democrats, we have held the Attorney General’s office for forty-nine years, and our Party must be prepared to answer to the voters for the norms and practices of that office. If the full extent of how Healey continues to treat this huge percentage of Massachusetts residents gets out, that leaves her incredibly vulnerable as a candidate, and us as a party.
The most recent test Healey has failed lies in her office’s apparent refusal to enforce some critical (and fabulous) regulations Coakley promulgated to protect homeowners. Several of these regulations are directly the legal responsibility of the Attorney General’s office.
One of them, in particular, imposes stays of execution on mortgage debt collections while homeowners’ appeals are in process. We know of dozens of homeowners who have recently taken the steps to impose these stays on the banks in their own situations. Despite even the Massachusetts government website stating that these regulations control mortgage debt collection, the banks’ lawyers are completely ignoring these regulation-imposed stays, as have been the Housing Court justices. Many homeowners have reached out to Healey’s office, which has either refused to answer follow-up calls or has literally told them that the Attorney General’s office – the sole office responsible for enforcement of these regulations – would do nothing, that it was not their responsibility!
Healey needs to step up to the plate on this and numerous other legal responsibilities and commitments she has to the Massachusetts people around foreclosures. And she needs to do it now before this makes her a target on an issue that effects 1 in 13 households directly and all of us indirectly – even if too many of us seem to have forgotten.
Or have we so quickly forgotten the horror of the mass evictions we experienced at the height of the last financial crisis? Have we been so desensitized that we can’t see that it is still ongoing for hundreds of families a month? Is it too frightening to consider how the stage has been set for this ongoing crisis to accelerate again when inevitably the next financial panic hits?