Occupy Chattanooga was back at the County Courthouse on Thursday, but this time it was not to "occupy" the courthouse grounds but to speak up for a friend.
Fil Manley was facing foreclosure on the house in North Chattanooga at 507 Woodlawn Ave.
where he has lived since 1994.
Occupy Chattanooga members held signs of support. Some asked that no one bid on the property.
There were several investors present, but no one did bid on the house, which has a debt of $68,000.
The official who conducted the foreclosure on the steps of the courthouse said the bank (One West Bank) had not yet put in a bid.
After it was over, Mr. Manley said he was unsure whether he had lost the house or not.
Beth Foster of the Occupy group said, "We're here in support of Fil. He just wants the bank to negotiate with him. The banks created this financial crisis and brought all this on."
She said Fil Manley had helped a lot of people, including developing a program to provide backpacks for homeless people.
Mr. Manley said his experience with the bank had been a nightmare, consuming much of his time trying to straighten it out and get someone at the bank to talk to him.
He said he has developed a promising new website business that is an online listing of Chattanooga attorneys. He said he is about to start selling ads for it and it is hopeful it will improve his finances.
Mr. Manley said, "I’m here today to talk about my experience with Fannie Mae, One West Bank, and their comically inadequate handling of federal money provided through the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.
My business experienced a downturn during the 2008 economic crisis, and I in turn, got behind on my mortgage payments.
"I applied for and was given a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, created by president Obama.
"When I was approved for the HAMP modification, I was told that it would be made permanent after three months.
"I made those first three payments, but then in the fourth month, One West Bank rescinded my HAMP modification because they said I had failed to send in one sheet of paper, a balance sheet. They were required by law to notify me in writing so that I could dispute the modification loss, but I never received a notification or a phone call to tell me about it, even though they had my number and called me constantly on a variety of issues.
"I sent them my paperwork, on time, every time, but One West bank repeatedly and unapologetically lost it.
"One West Bank bought my original loan servicer, Indy Mac, for pennies on the dollar, after Indy Mac found themselves holding $11 billion dollars in loans, which they were unable to sell in a depressed market. This was after IndyMac spent years making huge profits trading mortgages and a scandal involving fabricated accounting numbers. At that point, One West Bank became my new loan company.
"I’ve been on the phone with One West bank hundreds of times, and dealing with them has been the most frustrating experience of my life. You’re never allowed to speak directly to a person in authority.
"I realized after three years of being run in circles, that the One West representatives I spoke with were untrained, hourly employees hired off the street who had little or no understanding of mortgages and how they work. They read from a script and they check off items on a computer screen. If I asked to speak to a supervisor, which I did repeatedly, I was always denied that opportunity. Frequently, I was forced to call back multiple times because their computers were down.
"Repeatedly, they would tell me something on one day, but when I would call back three days or a week later, the new representative would tell me the exact opposite.
"It’s impossible to speak to the same person more than once, so every time you call, you have to re-tell your story, but for the most part, they don’t care what your story is, because their job is to take care of the check boxes on the computer screen. All One West representatives are essentially just talking heads on the phone, who act as a barrier between the homeowner and the underwriters and decision makers who you’re never allowed to speak to.
"Multiply this across 200 phone calls, and you can begin to understand the frustration people feel when dealing with Mortgage servicers like One West Bank.
"Often, One West representatives would tell me a blatant lie, just to get me off the phone.
"After my HAMP loan modification was rescinded, One West Bank sent me another HAMP application and asked me to complete it, which took me 3 days. I submitted the new HAMP application, after which One West Bank told me I shouldn’t have applied for it, because I wasn’t eligible for it.
"After my house failed to sell in the first auction, they began sending me new loan modification applications, three in total, all of which I filled out and all of which they denied. This process wasted hundreds of hours of my time and caused me to spend uncounted time on the phone with them, tracking down lost documents or resending them.
"This was an egregious waste of my time, and amounted to One West Bank building up my hopes repeatedly, only to crush them. Eventually, I began to feel like I was working within a system designed to keep me hopeful, distracted and occupied while they worked to get my house sold to the highest bidder at the earliest opportunity.
"The HAMP program was too little, too late and was administered by Loan Servicing companies whose actual interests lie in extracting cash from the home through an auction sale. Essentially, our government has put the thieves in charge of the bank vault. Loan Servicing companies use any excuse to refuse loan modifications and have created a hostile and dishonest process for administering the dissemination of public funds. These efforts by our federal government are the equivalent of slamming the barn door after the horse has already been stolen, then giving the thief the key to the gate.
"This insult is made much worse, but our federal government’s refusal to prosecute banking executives who for years reaped enormous profits through the use of risky and criminal investment practices.
"Instead of prosecution, the criminals in these banks were given a bailout totaling more than $400 billion dollars, while less than $9 billion dollars of that went to help struggling homeowners. Initially projected to help more than 4 million homeowners, currently, fewer than a million are being helped by the Home Affordable Modification Program.
"This bailout, and the way the money has been spent and regulated, shows a fundamental disconnect between the middle class and the government it elected. It shows a fundamental paradigm shift from the middle class being considered the backbone of the country, to taxpayer welfare for criminal investment bankers who have made billions in profits trading bundled Mortgage derivatives.
"I want to keep my home, which I’ve lived in since 1994, and I’m willing to work to do so, but One West bank has proved to be a morass of bureaucracy designed not to help the homeowner, but to speed them down the assembly-line of foreclosure so that One West Bank can make profits from their purchase of the assets of IndyMac.
"I believe that One West bank cares little about home-owners and a great deal about generating profits at any cost. Their system for dealing with homeowners and managing federal HAMP funds paid for by American Taxpayers is arcane, convoluted, impenetrable and disorganized. I believe this is their way of keeping homeowners at arms length and yoked under a feeling of powerlessness while they accelerate the foreclosure process. I have experienced these feelings times a thousand through this three year process.
"President Obama had no trouble giving hundreds of billion of American dollars to banks who for years engaged in criminal activities, but failed miserably to engage with homeowners who were losing their equity, their livelihood and their hard work because of those criminal activities.
"I believe that if there is to be any kind of equity for families in my situation, then our elected leaders need to stop selling us out to those who pay for their jet fuel, their campaign buses, and the microphones they speak into when they make promises they don’t keep.
"My experience is not unique. It has been repeated more than four million times on more than four million American families and individuals since 2008. Right now, one in 69 homes in the US is in danger of foreclosure and my question to president Obama is, why don’t American citizens, the ones with regular jobs, regular mortgages and regular cars get the same consideration as Bank executives? Why do regular Americans have to climb mountains of red tape and wade through the swamp of corporate indifference to get to a fraction of the consideration?
"If you can’t answer that question Mr. President, then you have failed and you are not the person I voted for.
"Thank you for your time."