Brendon Mendoza, an L.A. music industry veteran, is an Occupy L.A. supporter who has been fighting Bank of America for two years to stave off foreclosure of his Montecito Heights home.
After months of being shifted between contacts at the institution, the 42-year-old says B of A has finally promised to pause foreclosure in favor of negotiation.
Mendoza took his fight to the website change.org two months ago, where he started gathering signatures to get the institution to “grant me a loan modification in order for me to stay in my home.”
Nearly 15,000 people responded with signatures of support.
And lo and behold, Bank of America last week changed its tune, temporarily halting foreclosure, assigning one point person to deal with Mendoza's case, and committing to possible loan modification negotiations, he said.
While the signatures help, Mendoza tells the Weekly that the Occupy movement has certainly had an impact on banks' attitudes:
The timing of this Bank of America executive calling me certainly has a lot to do with Occupy. The banks are finally starting to reduce the bullying a little. They got bailout money. They're now saying we actually have to help a little here.
Mendoza bought his two-bedroom L.A. home in 2006, nearly at the top of the market. A few months later its value started to slide, and in 2009 he lost an A&R job at a noted record label.
He immediately reached out to B of A and even entered a pilot program where he had to pay three payments at once (he laid down enough to cover five) but the bank still initiated foreclosure, he said.
President Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program offered some solace. But Mendoza says he was turned down.
Forty-six hours waiting in line to see a B of A rep at the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America event last year? Nada.
Mendoza says he event took on a roommate to appease the bank. No dice.
He eventually discovered that B of A is the “servicer” of his loan, but Wells Fargo is the investor. “My loan has been bought and sold so many times,” Mendoza said.
Meanwhile his home is worth 60 percent of what he promised to pay in 2006. Mendoza says he calmly fielded “four to six collection calls a day,” all with the same questions, all with the same answers.
It wasn't until his petition began making the rounds that he got a call from an executive who said he would be assigned one point person from the bank who would forestall foreclosure. Mendoza:
It's the first time in this process I felt I was heard. I'm very hopeful.