President-elect Donald Trump’s treasury nomination oversaw the aggressive foreclosure of homes belonging to vulnerable populations — particularly the elderly — when he was chairman of OneWest Bank, Propublica reported.
During his tenure at OneWest, Steve Mnuchin headed up its subsidiary Financial Freedoms, which promoted reverse mortgages among elderly recipients to take their home equity. This type of loan allowed borrowers to build up equity without selling their houses. Because elderly homeowners often thought that the paperwork they received were scams, Financial Freedom would use that to start foreclosure proceedings, CNN reported.
In one case, OneWest tried to foreclose on a house belonging to John Yang, an 80-year-old Korean immigrant in Florida, because the bank said he didn’t live there, which would be a violation of the terms of his loan. The bank delivered the legal notice to him at his home — the very same place they accused him of not occupying. A legal aid attorney intervened to prevent him from losing his home.
When asked how this foreclosure came so close to taking place, an OneWest employee said in a deposition this year, “You’re trying to make logic out of an illogical situation.”
At least 50,000 other people were not as lucky. OneWest foreclosed those homes “often in circumstances that consumer advocates say run counter to federal rules,” Propublica reported. The publication pointed out that some foreclosures were justified, but Financial Freedom would refuse to “work with borrowers in foreclosure to establish payment plans, in contrast with other servicers of reverse mortgages.” Full store here