Articles Posted in Bankruptcy

William Edinger, 44, and his wife, Laura Mannetta, 35, moved their son, Billy, 12, and two daughters, Jessica, 10, and Melissa, 2, to a hotel, when they could no longer afford their $975-a-month home. Jessica often asks if she will go back to her school. “We tell her the truth, that we don’t know when we are moving. She gets upset and angry. We are lucky the other two don’t understand,” Mr. Edinger said.

With limited space to play safely outdoors, the children stay inside with their parents.  Jessica drapes the window curtain over her to create a temporary room for a moment of privacy.

Yesterday, blog published on the Education Debt Crisis here. 

Now, this blog has not yet garnered the status of the New York Times, but on the same day, the NYT, published both a video and an article on the exact same topic.  One of the only ways to shed student loan debt, even in bankruptcy, is to be found “hopeless” by the court. Doug Wallace, who is now legally blind and owes $89,000, is awaiting a ruling.  He is blind from diabetes, unemployed, and has no income.   With more and more education-debt loaded graduates finding their degrees worthless in an economy that failed them, Wallace is far from alone in his desperation.

Watch the video here.

“When the banks went under and the stock market went way down … I lost [most] of it,” said Charlotte Wahlstrom, 74,  who lives in a trailer in a small town in Michigan and gets by on $140/month in food stamps.

This wasn’t part of her retirement plan. After her divorce in 1976, Wahlstrom continued to work as an administrative assistant and went back for her college degree, later landing a solid job at a university. Growing up on a small farm in Minnesota, Wahlstrom learned to stretch a dollar, and by her late 50s she had accumulated roughly six figures in her retirement account. Unfortunately, it was mostly invested in stock mutual funds.  Wahlstrom is part of a group experts call “the hidden hungry.”

“When the banks went under and the stock market went way down … I lost [most] of it,” she said.  This is point where she would have been bailed out if she were a major financial institution who “lost most of it” when the financial crisis hit.

A new report from the National Employment Law Project highlights America’s Low Wage Recovery.  This is not news to anyone living in the real world outside of politics, high level government, or finance. What this report shows is that the poor and teens struggle to find any jobs at all because of the downward displacement of the formerly middle class white and blue collar workers into retail, fast food, and other low wage jobs.

The five main findings of this report are:

  1. Lower-wage occupations were 21 percent of recession job losses but 58 percent of recovery growth

The National Mortgage Settlement which gave Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citi a very easy out for massive financial and real estate crimes is getting a lot of mainstream media coverage in the wake of the release of the first report card.

The full report card is here.  Florida’s stats are on page 42.

Florida’s portion of the “relief” which was originally intended to allow families to stay in their homes with a modified, sustainable mortgage has been doled out thus far (notice the heavy concentration of short sale “relief”).  Without the short sales, the total relief is $244,221,629 for 10,086 homeowners.

Many Americans today are all too aware of the nation’s new demographic, the disappearing middle class.  Those  who fit into this group lived the American dream and lost everything in the aftermath of the man-made financial crisis.  The top financial institutions got bailed out from their dire predicament while the country’s small businesses and individual families were abandoned, left to fend for themselves.  Millions of middle class families are facing financial difficulties that are new, foreign, and frightening.

South Florida has been one of the hardest hit areas; mass unemployment and foreclosures, plummeting housing values, unsustainable mortgage and other debt, rising food and fuel prices, and a non-existent credit market leading more small businesses to close their doors.  Millions of families who did all the right things to live the American dream now realize they too are members of the disappearing middle class.  Banks and other creditors may offer advice that is extremely harmful to the well being of struggling families such as pressuring families to drain retirement savings to catch up payments on an underwater mortgage.  Worse, there may be subtle or overt threats by creditors, harassment, and other illegal collection tactics that frighten stressed families needlessly.   Please do not let shame or guilt weigh you down or leave you vulnerable to scam artists or bad advice.

Families in this situation have options and legal rights.   We at the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen are here to listen, ask the right questions to help analyze your unique circumstances, and offer advice and guidance that is in your family’s best interest.   Whether your family needs to get advice, review options, or find effective foreclosure defense, debt defense, or a seasoned bankruptcy attorney, we are here for you.

The foreclosure fraud crisis and the student loan debt crisis spring from the same roots, sharp reduction in borrower protections, heavy lender lobbying influence (via campaign contributions) over elected officials, and a system where loan defaults are more lucrative than performing loans.

Unfortunately, in the thick of a presidential campaign, we hear no policy or plans that directly address these issues.   In a close presidential race such as the one between Obama and Romney, powerful voting blocks weld great power.  If all the families struggling with underwater mortgages organized with all the families struggling with unsustainable student loans, we would realize the benefit of power, numbers, and demands for solutions that work for our families.

Our firm urges you to remember that debt, whether from education, mortgage, credit cards, or car loans, is a legal contractual issue that that demands a well rounded analysis of your options.  We believe strongly in educating you on your rights and the consequences of the options available to your family.  We are ready to confidentially listen to your struggles on these issues and will provide individualized advice targeted to help your family cope during these difficult times.

I have been asked, many times, over the past several years of handling foreclosure defense cases, by friends, family, and other attorneys, what is foreclosure defense? There is routinely a follow up of, “aren’t you just trying to buy people time, isn’t that all you can do?” Sometimes helping a client obtain extra time is their goal and as a lawyer, the client’s goals and best interest is of paramount importance. However, for me, foreclosure defense is so much more. It’s about justice!

Our nation is a nation of laws, to be applied equally to all. The words “and justice for all” are not just a part of our Pledge of Allegiance. They are heartfelt principals that people have fought and died to help achieve and preserve.

During the run up to the financial crisis, some banks turned into sophisticated con-artists. They pushed home loans to people they knew, or should have known, couldn’t afford them. Then they bundled those loans together into Wall Street securities and paid off rating agencies to rate them as AAA, good as gold, when behind the scenes they were calling them “sacks of cr_ _” and placing bets against them so they could collect even more money when they knew these securities would fail. These banks sold their toxic investments to everyone and anyone, local governments, foreign governments, individuals, and pension funds of our citizens, retirees, veterans, and more. In the end, as most of the Wall Street insiders knew they would, these “securities” failed. The big banks made billions selling them and billions more when they collapsed, collecting on their bets. To add insult to injury, when the companies that backed these devious wagers couldn’t pay off the Wall Street gamblers, the US taxpayers and Main Street stepped in to bail them out. Then, if you weren’t upset about that, what happened next should tip the scales. In the year after the bailout and the crisis, Wall Street executives took in more money in bonuses and salaries then they did in any year during the heyday.

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