California Attorney General Kamala Harris scored a huge victory on July 2 when the State Legislature passed the Homeowner Bill of Rights. The law, which never would have passed without Harris’s urging, provides some of the strongest protections in the land to homeowners left vulnerable in the wake of the housing market collapse. Among other things, it bans the notorious “dual track” process by which banks move toward foreclosure while simultaneously renegotiating home loans, and it streamlines the process by which homeowners deal with lenders, providing a single point of contact at the bank.
When it comes to defending ordinary Americans from the banks that wreaked so much havoc during the housing bubble, Harris is on a roll. The Homeowner Bill of Rights was the result of more than two months of hearings and debate during which Harris and her staff relentlessly pushed state legislators to support the measure. It complements the $25 billion national mortgage settlement the “big five” banks agreed to in February, which will bring relief to millions of homeowners who suffered from the banks’ misdeeds. The landmark deal would likely have been severely weakened or killed if Harris had not led more than a year of brass-knuckle negotiations.