Justice for One Small Segment of Homeowners

Yesterday, 157 service members should have received letters advising them of the compensation they would receive from the Justice Department’s settlement with Bank of America over violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).  Military personnel who were the victims of improper foreclosures while serving the nation will each receive a minimum of $116,875.

The $20 million settlement is reportedly the largest in SCRA’s relatively brief history.

“It is our responsibility to make things right,” a chief risk officer for Bank of America reportedly told American Banker. “These errors are not acceptable, and we certainly regret them.”

If only the bank felt that way about the civilians across the country who were similarly victimized, but don’t have the Justice Department going to bat for them and the tide of public opinion at their backs.  There’s no question that the brave men and women who lost their homes to illegal procedures while they were at work defending our country deserve compensation and it’s good to see that they, at least, will receive it.  But they’re not alone.

In sharp contrast, the Huffington Post reported just a few days ago that the coalition of state Attorneys General led by Iowa AG Tom Miller is pushing for a settlement that would put about $1500-2000 in the hands of victims of bad mortgage servicing and fraudulent foreclosure paperwork.  In addition to the obvious inadequacy of the compensation to individuals, such a settlement will do nothing to stabilize the economy or the housing market; victims receiving $1500-2000 in cash will at best be able to put down a deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment or–as suggested with regard to one former homeowner featured in the Huffington Post story–use the money to obtain storage space for their furnishings and worldly goods.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see some of the same outrage and justice on behalf of these former homeowners–victims of very similar shady practices by the same banks and mortgage servicers–that we’re seeing on behalf of our servicemembers?