Sunday, November 11, 2007

That Was Then And This Is Now

by Tanta on 11/11/2007 05:26:00 PM

Angelo Mozilo, February 4, 2003, Washington, DC:

As we had envisioned in 1992, House America offers unique loan products that have been specifically designed to meet the needs of minority and low- to moderate- income borrowers. But it also does more. It has become not just a lending program, but a more comprehensive effort that devotes considerable intellectual and financial resources to increasing homeownership among minority and low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

It is an effort that includes a counseling center which provides free services by phone in a comfortable, no obligation environment where people can obtain information about the home-buying process. It is an effort that, in addition to providing loan products with flexible underwriting criteria such as home rehab loans, also specializes in being able to layer financing programs through participation in hundreds of down payment and closing cost assistance programs. House America also offers other tools to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to expand the opportunities for home-ownership. It is an effort absolutely committed to education and outreach, both in English and Spanish, both online and in local communities, both at local home-buyer fairs and at lending workshops, and with our many partners, like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Council of La Raza, AFL-CIO, and faithbased groups across the Country, just to name a few.

I want to specifically and especially recognize Franklin Raines and his entire team at Fannie Mae for providing a great deal of the resources that have made it possible for us to achieve our House America objectives.

In 1993, Countrywide opened four dedicated House America retail branches, and now we have 23 staffed with local and diverse professionals in major metropolitan areas all across the Country.

It is an effort that has enabled Countrywide to become the number one lender to Hispanics for the last 6 years and the number one lender to African Americans for the past 3 years.1 It is an effort that is helping create, if you will allow me to paraphrase, a Field of American Dreams. “If you build it, and build it right, they will come.” Finally, House America is an effort that, as you can tell, makes all of us at Countrywide extremely proud. I could talk about it all night, but I won’t.

But I want to make the point that this outreach effort is imperative. Fortunately Countrywide isn’t alone – there are other mortgage lenders and financial institutions that are all making positive contributions. And the lesson we can take away from this is the following: for a long time, when it came to increasing low-income and minority homeownership, the message has always been “we should,” or “we must.” But the fact is, “we can,” and “we are.”

Now, we must take the energy and expertise and the ideas and the innovation that we’ve brought to increasing the overall homeownership rate, and apply them to creating reasonable parity among homeowners. It is time, once and for all, to narrow and ultimately eliminate the homeownership gap. I believe we can eliminate the gap and it is, in large part, why I got into this business. [Emphasis added]

Angelo Mozilo, October 29, 2007, Los Angeles:
In just the period from second quarter 2005 to second quarter 2007, California delinquency rates have climbed more than 180 percent. But State Treasurer Bill Lockyear said that while he anticipates some economic ripple effect across the state, "it's still too early to measure." Next year, California’s deficit is expected to reach $9 billion, he noted, and while the subprime effect will be "significant," he anticipates that the state will be shielded by its strong and diverse economy.

Countrywide's Chairman and CEO, Angelo Mozilo, took pains to explain what precipitated the subprime problem. First, he said, easy money began to drive up home prices at the start of the decade. When the Fed began to raise interest rates -- after some six or seven times, in fact -- people suddenly began to scramble to get into houses before the next rate hike. In addition, lenders were facing pressure from minority advocates to help people purchase homes. Lenders felt pressure to lessen their loan standards.