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Friday, October 31, 2014

Los Feliz bank gets “yarn-bombed” in foreclosure protest

Photos courtesy KnitRiot Collective

Some people take to the streets to march. Others organize boycotts or stage sit-in demonstrations. Then there are those whose preferred form of protest is to knit. This morning in Los Feliz, a group of mostly Eastside knitters, crafters and guerrilla artists known as the KnitRiot Collective made a statement about the foreclosure crises by stringing a clothing  line of with 99 hand-knitted homes across the ficus trees in front of the Bank of America. This morning’s guerrilla art installation, called a yarn bombing, is named HOMEsweetHOME and is intended to to show solidarity with Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure.



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43 comments

  1. You mean they are expressing solidarity with people who greedily took out loans for homes they could never afford by misrepresenting their incomes. Not a crowd to support. I am disgusted.

    • Ok, “Big Man”, just to clarify… people went in for loans for homes because banks were giving them out haphazardly. I agree that people should have been more responsible, however, the bank has and traditionally always did have the final say. If the bank did not deem you fit for a loan (which shortly before the collapse the formula was to have a .38 debt ratio or lower), then said bank would reject your loan. This is when banks were still quasi responsible. As far as “misrepresenting their income”, that is strictly nonsense. The average person does not have the means, nor the nohow, to alter official paper work (most times computer based) that shows their financial status and history.
      Finally, I have to say that it is a shame that there are people that will actually side with the obviously greed driven banks and put down people who have clearly suffered for their mistakes in most likely, homelessness. Remember, the people aren’t the ones who received a handsome, no strings attached bailout. “I am disgusted”.

      • Plenty of folks took out No Income No Assets (known by its acronym NINA) loans, also known as “stated income” or “liar’s loans.” In exchange for paying 1/4 or 1/2 point higher interest, the borrower could simply state what he or she earned and the lender wouldn’t bother to check.

        Remember that back in 2003-2004, give or take a few years, a lot of wannabe home buyers thought prices were going to rise forever, and many folks figured if the payments adjusted upward or if they couldn’t afford the payments on a fixed-rate loan, they’d be able to sell their home – at a profit – in a few years. Just because the bank says they’ll lend you the money doesn’t mean you should borrow it. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel sorry for folks who got themselves into this mess – unless there was loan fraud involved, which is not the case for the majority of foreclosed-upon borrowers. I have lived below my means all my life and I have little sympathy for those who aren’t willing to do so. Anyway, getting foreclosed on isn’t the worst fate in the world; their credit will take a hit for a few years, and then, if they save, they can buy another house.

        • Oh, and I don’t want to rain on the knitters’ parade, but I don’t think those second-story windows are to code; they need to be large enough to provide egress in case of a fire. Hopefully nobody will report them to the DKBS – the Department of Knitted-Building Safety.

  2. @ big man your right support the crooks who set the loans up sold them on the stock market as triple a rated ,then got bailed out by the tax payers! you douche bag.

    • You sound like a very generous person. Can I please move in with you for the next two years – rent free – because the evil bank is kicking me out of my home for not paying my mortgage?

    • Both sides were crooks — the borrowers too who were lying about their incomes. The buyers, too, who took out the loans they never intended to pay, put off most payment until five years later, basically were flipping without paying. But then they found they could not flip.

      All that is is wild, irresponsible and dishonest speculation. Why in hell should we other people who did not do that irresponsible behavior be suffering for what they did — AND fight for them to be able to keep ownership of the house they cannot and never could afford?! Yes, suffering from them crashing the entire economy, suffering from getting nothing on our bank account interest, suffering from losing our jobs because of the bad economy these people created.

      What is the big problem with these people living within their means. If they can’t afford, they can simply go rent — like the rest of us who can’t afford, like the rest of us who could have bought but we were priced out of the market by these irresponsible people bidding prices up way beyond anything anyone ever should have considered — and I would not consider such, because it was irresponsible. Why are these irresponsible people singled out for free housing ownership, when responsible and honest people like me are left to rent?!

      The fight against foreclosure is being touted as if the people were being made homeless. No, they are not. They simply will have to go rent now at a price they can actually pay for. That’s all. Just like the rest of us.

      All we are doing with all this tremendously expensive fight against foreclosure and propping up of housing prices at levels that otherwise could not be supported is to keep responsible people out of the market to buy houses. That is, the responsible people are being punished, and the irresponsible ones are being rewarded. This is just wrong. These people aren’t victims! They KNOWINGLY did this themselves, they KNOWINGLY gambled that they would make a lot of money they never worked for — free money to be had for all — and resell at huge profit. Well, they decided to be big time gamblers and speculators in an effort to make a lot of money without working for it, and they lost. So, now they have to go back to what they really can afford and rent.

      • Exactly. The people speculated and over leveraged. If they sold at the right time, they would make good, even BIG $$. Who keeps that profit? The banks? No. The person who speculated keeps the profit.

        So, when that same person didn’t sell at that right time, or chased the market down (tried to sell at too high a price, etc.), and ends up foreclosing, who pays for that? The property owner AND the bank, AND now everyone else through bailouts, handouts, job loses and the bad economy.
        And we’re suppose to show support to these gamblers? Who wouldn’t share a dime with us if they did make a profit? Yeah right.

      • Well said Henry.

  3. Both parties speculated–the banks AND homeowners, because they both wanted to make $$$, so both are ‘greedy’.

    If the homeowner wasn’t speculating, and they couldn’t make payments (on loan terms they agreed to and signed), then they bought a property they couldn’t afford.

    Why is it that people seem to think buying and owning a property is a right? If you can’t afford it, rent. If you want to speculate, then be prepared for losing your investment, that’s the risk.

    Homeowners losing their homes is not the banks fault, it’s the fault of the homeowner, either through speculation that didn’t pan out, or buying too expensive of a property in the first place.

  4. The proces of getting a mortgage is incredibly confusing and even the most reputable bank will make changes(errors) in their own favor th the snow storm of paperwork that decends on a buyer. Otherr states require the buyer to use an attorney to assist in the purchase of a home here it is you and your realtor and you better have a good one who is watching out for your interests. Most average joes don’t understand what they are getting into and in the past unregulated lending processes were call predatory for a reason. Speaking to a bank or mortgage broker is akin to making a deal with the devil, they will get you in as deep as they can without regard for your future financil health or security.

    • The ‘average joe’ getting a mortgage is a bit more sophisticated than you are letting on here. I know there are absolutely cases of fraud, deceit and trickery in the mortgage world but the people I’ve met that took out big loans on their homes were pretty well aware of what was going on.

    • When I purchased my first house in 1997, I had to drive from Silver Lake out to Stanton, where the escrow company was (the seller demanded their choice of escrow and title companies) – and I had to sign a huge raft of paperwork there in the office, while the escrow agent waited for me, an hour before the office closed. Never again. In 2003, when I refinanced the loan, I asked the notary public (whom the bank assigned to meet me and get my signatures) to drop off the paperwork so that I could read it at my leisure.

      “I’m not going to drive out there twice,” she told me, so I agreed to meet her at a coffeehouse near her home in Inglewood. I read the paperwork at my leisure, called the bank with a few questions, had them change one or two things, and then I met with the notary public to sign the papers.

      My strong recommendation is that the buyer take the loan, title, and any other documents home with them to read at their leisure – or pay a real-estate attorney for an hour of his/her time to pore over them with you. If the lender or escrow company doesn’t like it, tough shit; you’re the customer, and the deal is not going to fall through because you took an extra day or two to read the paperwork.

  5. I think these poor people deserve their house for free. These evil banks forced all these people to buy homes they didn’t want secured with mortgages they could not afford. I believe the least the banks can do is erase the debt of the borrow to say, “I’m sorry”.

  6. The comments here are truly not what I expected.

    I do like the yarn projects. Hope they stay up for a while.

  7. @ Vor I like your illiterate response it is obvious you know nothing of the home buying situation, The banks made bad loans then put those loans on the market as triple a rated sold them on the stock market and made a mess of the entire financial situation of the globe, in the end my properties have lost value and my stock portfolio has lost value as well , I would really like to blame low income families as much as you do , the sad fact is the ones who made the loans are responsible if I make a loan to some one like you ( an idiot ), and you cant pay it I should lose but the banks don’t seem to like that risk its called capitalism .

    • You’re ‘properties lost value’, your ‘portfolio lost value’, and who should pay for your bad investments?? The banks? If the banks didn’t give people like you loans in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

      All the mortgage banks did was sell the ‘liability’ down the line. It wouldn’t have mattered whether they sold the loans on wall street or not, the homeowner would have still defaulted when the market bombed. The difference was that since the liability didn’t stay with the initial loan bank, the lenders started to offer more higher risk loans, at higher rates, which exasperated the problem (created a LOT more demand).

      I knew this was all gonna bust BIG during the boom period. It was economics 101, so I stayed out of the market and continued to rent. When people were buying properties that would cost 2x to 3x the equivalent monthly rental price, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the value of that property had to appreciate quite a lot for it to make any sense.

      It didn’t make sense to me that property values would continue to rise at those rates forever, again, economics 101. If I bought a property during the boom and lost big, I would blame no one else but myself, period.

    • Shadowpark, Your account of what happened is so oversimplified that I have to assume that you are dumbing down your explanation for the layperson because I can’t imagine anyone would be so uninformed and strong willed without fully understanding the extent of what happened.

      Since you obviously know a lot about this, perhaps you can explain your position further…Do buy into classical economics or Keynesian economics? How do you feel about Herbert Hoover letting the banks fail during the 1930’s spinning our country into depression? After all, he was famous for saying “…purge the rottenness out of the system”. What is your opinion of how other countries handled their debt crisis including the Latin American Debt Crisis and the Japanese asset bubble (lost decade)? Since we have all that history to draw upon, why do you think that letting the banks fail would be appropriate (because EVERYONE agrees that is was unfair, but necessary)? Please give me a historic example where letting the banks fail worked in restoring the economy vs. the opposite. Also, since you clearly have a problem with banks foreclosing on people, what should they do? Should they allow these people to live in their house for free? Should they mark the debt to market? Why are these people any different than you or me when we fail to pay off our debts? I personally don’t feel entitled to something I can’t afford or don’t pay for, but I believe that is another discussion…

    • @ flea man that is correct I bought well before the boom and decided to keep out of the refi market this is the risk we take in capitalism you are too ignorant to get the point obviously if the banks risk money and if they fail the banks should fail end of story.
      don’t comment about things you don’t under stand dumbass.

      • Banks did fail and have failed, but the ‘too big to fail’ ones were bailed out, though they still LOST $$$.
        Oh, and nice way to end a discussion turd.

        • Fleaman, you make a great point! Over 100 banks have failed since the “great recession”. I personally applaud our lawmakers for defying the uninformed voting public by propping up the “too big to fail” banks; as unpopular as it was, I truly believe that if turds like shadowpark got their way, we would be at 40%+ unemployment and they would be crying about a lot more than “yarn bombing”.

          When Lehman Brothers failed, the global run on banks was more sever than anyone could have imagined. Short term US treasuries actually went NEGATIVE – and Lehman Brothers assets were a mere drop in the bucket compared to Citibank or Bank of America. Obviously, it would have been much better if none of this happened and an asset bubble never formed in the first place, but since we live in an imperfect world, financial markets are destined to go haywire from time to time and hard decisions have to be made – the lesser of two evils.

          • Yes, the lesson learned was that ‘to big to fail’ companies (banks or otherwise), should be broken up into smaller factions BEFORE they get themselves into positions of default.

            The real problem is that even though the powers-to-be have learned this lesson, they have failed to do anything about it due to the ‘bought’ nature of politics, leaving the economy and wall street on continued shaky ground. Recent loses on high risk bets (Chase, Citi, etc), have shown there will be no change in the ‘way of biz’ until regulatory laws make it so.

            As to shadowpark? Not sure what the bitching is about, something about ‘it’s the banks’ fault-simplistic. I think shadowpark is just upset that his paper wealth has dropped, and is blaming it on the banks/wall street. Guess what? That bubble appreciation was just that, a bubble. Get over it and grow up.

  8. Who said I support the banks? It’s this lack of reading comprehension that caused the problem. Both parties are at fault for different reasons.

  9. Also, I think we can have this discussion without using the N word.

  10. To throw up a different thread, neighbors up and down my street went into foreclosure by choice! Just stopped paying their mortgage. This was very common from what I’ve read. Their line of thought was that it doesn’t get any better than free. They lived for between 18 months and 3 years for free before finally getting locked out. Built a pretty nice nest egg in that time to start over. Greed and no conscience and everyone else has to share in the economic mess.

    • Oh Carol, we all know that is not true because Michael Moore told us that the banks tricked everyone into signing mortgages they couldn’t afford as part of a grand scheme to destroy the global banking system (and their job). And since Michael Moore is always right there next to Ben Bernanke when he reads his beige book report, I have to assume he is a very credible source. Besides, Americans would never do something so selfish and self-serving!

      • Well VOR, as I wasn’t there at the signing, I can’t vouch for what went down. At the end of the game they were all very clear about what they were doing. All expressed a version of “I’m staying as long as I can and saving as much money as I can for my next move”. One stayed for 18 months or so and gave up waiting to get booted out. He moved back east and then his ex-wife took over squatting for another 18 months. Another neighbor bought a property out of the area. Another saved up more than a years rent into the future. etc.. They all made out fine. However, I think squatting is more akin to stealing, no?

        • I agree. I hope you know that I was being facetious in my previous comment. I too know numerous people who have lived rent and mortgage free for two years with absolutely no intention of every paying the bank. One person in particular actually expressed interest in removing all the valuable fixtures and selling them before finally departing. I guess this should be expected when you lend to sub-prime borrowers – people that have a proven track record of not paying their bills – and probably the kind of people that take no responsibility for their own actions.

  11. “Anyone who wants to know what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about need only look at the way Bank of America does business. It comes down to this: These guys are some of the very biggest a**holes on Earth. They lie, cheat and steal as reflexively as addicts, they laugh at people who are suffering and don’t have money, they pay themselves huge salaries with money stolen from old people and taxpayers – and on top of it all, they completely suck at banking. And yet the state won’t let them go out of business, no matter how much they deserve it, and it won’t slap them in jail, no matter what crimes they commit. That makes them not bankers or capitalists, but a class of person that was never supposed to exist in America: royalty.”

    Read the truth for yourselves.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314#ixzz1xSbThl7n

    Look into it before you decide who is to blame. You could be next.

  12. “The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we’ll all be paying for until the end of time. Did you hear about the plot to rig global interest rates? The $137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities? The ingenious plan to suck multiple fees out of the unemployment checks of jobless workers? Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they’ll be into some shit again: This bank is like the world’s worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt’s funeral. They’re out of control, yet they’ll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.

    It’s been four years since the government, in the name of preventing a depression, saved this megabank from ruin by pumping $45 billion of taxpayer money into its arm. Since then, the Obama administration has looked the other way as the bank committed an astonishing variety of crimes – some elaborate and brilliant in their conception, some so crude that they’d be beneath your average street thug. Bank of America has systematically ripped off almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, depositors, homeowners, shareholders, pensioners and taxpayers. It brought tens of thousands of Americans to foreclosure court using bogus, “robo-signed” evidence – a type of mass perjury that it helped pioneer. It hawked worthless mortgages to dozens of unions and state pension funds, draining them of hundreds of millions in value. And when it wasn’t ripping off workers and pensioners, it was helping to push insurance giants like AMBAC into bankruptcy by fraudulently inducing them to spend hundreds of millions insuring those same worthless mortgages.”

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bank-of-america-too-crooked-to-fail-20120314#ixzz1xSgfHp9b

  13. This is an interesting conversation as I am looking at buying a home for the first time. During the “boom” I had a lot of friends who bought and told me how easy it was, even with no money down. At the time I felt a huge amount of pressure to do the same–like I was never ever going to be able to own a home in LA if I didn’t buy then. At the time, a friend who is very involved in real estate said, “the prices are never going to go down”.

    While this comments conversation is playing the blame game, I can tell you first-hand that the boom created a sense that everyone could do it–that reasonable people could buy homes outside of their budget and they would be fine. So I don’t think it is as simple as, “people knew what they were getting into”. It benefitted banks to make these deals, or they wouldn’t have done it. I don’t think we should underestimate the power of trends and advertising on collective consciousness. During the boom did anyone ever see an ad or a billboard urging people not to buy outside of their means? No. Anyway, I do feel bad for many well-meaning, good people who believed the banks and the market and thought that they could buy over their heads because the prices would continue to go up. They are now underwater and struggle to make payments on homes that they want to keep. I think this is the majority of people who are struggling right now.

    • I personally think that people should be held responsible for the deals that they choose to enter into. Why do we need billboards to direct people’s behavior? Well-meaning or not, if you choose to enter into a large transaction you better do your f**king homework. That’s all I’m saying.

      And yes, the banks were scumbags, but people are ultimately in control of their actions.

      • If nothing else, the yarn bombing is keeping this important conversation going. I don’t think consensus on who or what is mostly to blame will emerge for quite awhile.

        I would, however, urge a little caution about castigating individuals who made unfortunate decisions on buying a home. Your sanctimoniousness will only hold up as long as all your supposedly prudent decisions based on homework and facts continue to hold true.

        Should you lose your job or have to tend to a seriously ill family member or have your house leveled by an earthquake (aren’t all Californians irrationally exuberant on that one?) you’ll find that circumstances have made a farce of all your homework, sobriety, and rational choices. Maybe compassion will then come more easily for you.

        • People were buying properties that cost 2x to 3x more on a monthly basis vs renting. There can only be one thing on their minds when they go ahead with such a purchase: Speculation. Period. There was no way it could make sense to anyone if the prices stopped rising the day they bought the overpriced property.

          Why should we feel compassion for people who were clearly gambling? Would they show compassion for others and share their profits when they sell at a appreciated price? No, they keep the profits for themselves, just like banks would.

          Say a renter put his $$ into apple stock instead of housing, since that is a stock that has that magical ‘always seems to go up’ mystique about it. If that person won big (likely if they bought apple during the housing boom years), good for them, right? But what if they lost big? Would you feel compassion for them the say way you feel for property owners?

          Anyone can lose a job, get ill, etc. Even RENTERS. What about some compassion for them? The ones that didn’t over speculate, that lived within their means, but fell on hard times? Why should we focus on homeowners who made a bet and lost?
          And BTW, if you own a home you should have earthquake insurance. It’s not cheap, but not having it is also making a ‘bet’, so if you lose that bet that’s your fault, not mine. Pay for it now or pay for it later, it’s part of owning a house.

          • All this talk about home buyers as ‘gamblers’ is off the mark. The banks created an ARTIFICIALLY INFLATED MARKET through the process of selling off bundled mortgages and taking a commission on the transaction. There was BIG INCENTIVE to make bad loans. This inflated the market to absurd heights. Most people do not know what they are doing with business or real estate. People felt like they were never going to be able to buy a home if they did not buy now. These people were not ‘living above their means’ as some have stated. A piece of junk house in a bad neighborhood in Los Angeles was NOT worth $500,000. Someone who has a regular job should be able to afford a piece of junk house in a bad neighborhood in Los Angeles. The banks should NEVER have made those loans. Most people trust the system and most had no idea that the market was pure bubble. Those loan practices were criminal even if they were legal. That being said there will never be a bottom to the crash if foreclosed homes are not allowed to go on the market although those who have been diligently paying but are on some sort of ballooning mortgage or have otherwise seen their minimum payments should be allowed modification.

        • Oh yeah. I agree with you, but when talking about people involved in the housing crisis this is not what happened. I would love to see flexibility when someone loses a job or has to deal with a family emergency. I just don’t want someone who bought a $700k home on a $50k salary and filled it with flat-screen TVs, SUVS and large sunglasses to get the same treatment.

  14. A twee idea and a waste of time, the only way to get the banks to act is to target the people at the very top, find out where they live, who they’re married to, where their kids go to school, which country club they’re members of and protest against that person and their family directly, until you strike fear into the hearts of the ones you oppose they have the free will to destroy as many lives as their quest for profits can attain.

  15. Despite the fact that fault lay with more than one individual for any poorly funded loan, this is a protest I enjoy reading aboutz

  16. Riot..you idiot citizens going out with signs and knitting bullshit is not doing anything…Go All Out With Gernades and ouzo..All Citizens are getting screwed by the banks..Happy Birthday Idiot Citizens..

  17. I know quite a few people who could afford their homes just fine until they LOST THEIR JOBS. Wall Street and the banks caused this mess by making risky bets. We bailed them out and then they made it reeeeaallly tough to modify your mortgage (I have a few neighbors that finally got it done after a couple YEARS). You’d think after having their asses saved by the taxpayers they would pay it forward an work with homeowners, plenty of which wanted to pay for their homes but their salaries were reduced. If they would have just lowered peoples principals more homeowners would have stayed in their homes and paid their mortgages and banks would have saved money on foreclosures. I know a few people who did stay in their homes for as long as they could for free after exhausting every other option. I’m sure the percentage of people who intended to do that from the start is very small.

    Also, I think that’s the most adorable protest I’ve ever seen.

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