Attack of the Foreclosed Homeowners!

Hey, have you heard the one about the underwater homeowners who unsuccessfully tried to modify their home loans, but got even by tying two loan servicers to chairs and beating them within inches of their lives? Yeah, it’s a laugh riot. Right?

Depends on whether you’re underwater or not, I guess. But then, as I reported for AlterNet last month, it’s only a matter of time before that kind of behavior catches on with depressed homeowners. Squeezed between rapacious banks getting bailouts and a housing market that has disappeared never to return, they’re feeling cornered. And people do crazy shit when they’re cornered.

As Foreclosure Nightmares Increase, Will More Homeowners Pay Off Their Bankers in Violence?
Anger and discontent are reaching a boil as a lethal combination of economic corruption and political collusion are deleveraged across the United States.

From recent rampages in Orlando, Fla., to mortgage-related torture in Los Angeles, certain members of the citizenry seem to have had their fill of being manipulated for the financial gain of others, and they’re firing back with force.

And the situation threatens to burn hotter as the winter holidays — always a peak period fof domestic violence, due mostly to financial stress — approach to spark its frazzled strands. The economic crisis revealed late-capitalism’s central offense: Human beings are being transparently treated if they were mere transactions. And they’re going postal over it.

“They left me to rot,” Jason Rodriguez said when asked why he went on a shooting rampage at the Orlando engineering firm Reynolds, Smith and Hills that had fired him two years ago.

That compressed vitriol is also found in the Los Angeles case, where Daniel Weston and Gustavo Canez allegedly imprisoned and tortured loan-modification agents Lamond Dean and Luis Garcia while three others — Mario Soloman Gonzales, Marissa Parker and Mary Ann Parmelee, a realtor — sat and watched.

According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, “Weston and Parmelee live in a house that is in foreclosure,” and they “allegedly sought loan-modification assistance from the victims but believed that nothing was being done and wanted their money back.”

When they didn’t get it, they evidently extracted their payback in violent revenge.

“That’s not right,” explained Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending. “But clearly people are really mad about what’s happened to them. This is the kind of thing that happens when lenders don’t lend responsibly. You can’t abuse your customers forever.”

Or your tormenters, as Weston and Canez will no doubt realize, once the full force of the state comes down on them for venting their rage. Whatever their perceived or real injustices may have been, their attack on Dean and Garcia crossed a line laid down by the rule of law. But that rule, as everyone from voters to homeowners to municipalities and more have come to fully realize during the last decade, rarely applies in both directions.

For those in power, it is used to shield them from the justice they often deserve. For those on the outside looking in, it is often used to oppress them further. The disturbing blowback from that growing inequality, mirrored by an ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor and a true national unemployment rate around 17 percent, can only get worse.

“Loan-modification scams are proliferating now because of the numerous foreclosure-prevention programs that have been announced,” said Douglas Robinson, spokesman for NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit created by Congress to financially and technically assist with community-based revitalization efforts. “Homeowners know that there is help out there for them, so they are more susceptible to scammers who sound legitimate. Unemployment is increasing, and homeowners are looking for answers that will save their homes. Scammers know this and tailor their approach to homeowners.” MORE @ ALTERNET

(Photo: Felipe Skroski)