On November 30th, 2016, President-elect Trump named Steve Mnuchin to be the United States Treasury Secretary.
Also known as the “Foreclosure King,” Mnuchin earned the nickname for his bank’s practice of buying distressed mortgages during the financial crisis and evicting thousands of homeowners.
As the Chief Executive Officer and owner of OneWest Bank, Mnuchin oversaw what housing advocates called a “Foreclosure Machine.”
How did the “Foreclosure Machine” work?
The “Foreclosure Machine” repossessed the homes of tens of thousands of American families between 2009 and 2015. These actions only intensified the economic pain of the Great Recession.
Programs were created and available specifically to help banks like OneWest work with families to modify their mortgages and keep them in their homes.
Instead, OneWest pursued an aggressive strategy of foreclosing on families to rack up profits. In one case in Minnesota, a homeowner in a foreclosure dispute with OneWest came home in the middle of a blizzard to find that the locks on her house had been changed.
OneWest used illegal tactics like “robo-signing”—falsifying key documents—to create a wave of foreclosures that kicked more than 36,000 families out of their homes.
Preying on seniors
OneWest owned a reverse-mortgage servicing subsidiary called Financial Freedom. Reverse mortgages are typically a loan product for senior citizens who can get equity out of the home.
From April 2009 through April 2016, Financial Freedom was responsible for 39% of federally insured reverse-mortgage foreclosures nationwide, despite servicing approximately 17% of the market. This disproportionately high foreclosure rate on reverse mortgages impacted seniors across the country. In one case in Florida, OneWest foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman with a reverse mortgage over a 27-cent payment error in her home insurance.
Senate Democrats are asking Americans to share their personal stories of being impacted by the “Foreclosure King” Steve Mnuchin:
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