See an update at the end of this article.
A group of activists focused on organizing against Bay Area foreclosures will return to Wells Fargo’s San Francisco headquarters today for a protest timed to coincide with the banking giant’s shareholders’ meeting – even though the meeting was moved to Salt Lake City, Utah this year. (Perhaps the change of scenery had something to do with what happened last year, or the year before?)
Unfazed, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment has sent some homeowners who are facing bank foreclosure on a road trip to Utah to bring their message to CEO John Stumpf in person, according to ACCE organizer Erin Franey.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, activists focused on fighting foreclosure will congregate outside the bank’s Mongtomery Street headquarters. “Wells is foreclosing on more homeowners in California than any other bank,” says Franey, adding that there are currently 11,000 California homes in the foreclosure pipeline.
In attendance at this afternoon’s San Francisco rally will be Bernetta Adolf, a cancer survivor in her late 60s who has also struggled with blindness, a particularly challenging disability that forced her to retire from her city job as a Muni driver.
Adolf is locked in a battle with Wells Fargo over the foreclosure of her home in San Francisco’s Oceanview-Merced-Ingleside neighborhood. The trouble started when she borrowed against the home she’s lived in 20 years, to fund her son’s college education.
“It turns out the loan to provide for my son’s future was designed to ruin my own,” Adolf wrote in an online statement. “It was predatory, calculated to strip my equity and set me up for failure. When I tried to work with Wells to fix the loan, they offered a modification so small it didn’t make any difference. Then they started trying to take my house. The stress hastened my blindness and continues to aggravate my health problems.”
UPDATE: Wells Fargo spokesperson Ruben Pulido contacted us in response to this article and requested that we post a statement in response:
"Our foreclosure rate in 2012 fourth quarter was just 1.04 percent in California—less than half our national rate (2.1 percent) during that period.
Over the past four years, Wells Fargo has helped more than 850,000 customers nationwide with loan modifications, and has helped customers through $6.6 billion in principal forgiveness; the majority of that principal forgiveness has gone to borrowers in California.
When customers with financial challenges choose to work with us, we help 7 of 10 avoid foreclosure. Over the last 6 months, customers who completed a foreclosure were, on average, 19 months past due on their payments."