A Letter From Bruce Karatz.
Upon retirement in 2006, I foresaw the pending problems tied to foreclosures and wanted to find a way to assist families in need. I formed a non profit, named it The Keep Your Home Foundation and my objective was to preserve neighborhoods. Keeping families in their homes allows neighborhoods to stay vibrant and healthy.
I decided to focus on the San Fernando Valley where I anticipated large problems with foreclosures. I rented an office on Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks (an old escrow company) and hired a manager who had REO experience to run the office.
We focused on the San Fernando Valley and my manager went to dozens and dozens of churches and realtors’ offices to find families with mortgage problems.
My manager and I met with many realtors in the San Fernando Valley and the Inland Empire to encourage them to send us families with mortgage issues that they could not solve on their own.
After a year of meeting families with issues, we determined that in Los Angeles, the principal issue was not typical mortgage modification, but rather dramatic restructuring. Home values had dropped so much that mortgage balances greatly exceeded home values. Therefore the families did not want just interest rate reductions but rather a reduction in their outstanding mortgage debt. We saw that lenders were not prepared to bite the bullet and reduce borrowers’ debt. Now, two years later, we are seeing the adverse effects of the banking industry’s reluctance to truly modify loans. The loan modification process had very modest benefits to date.
Foreclosure issues continue to be an issue and only getting bigger and broader. I now realize that the most effective way to make a difference is to partner with a larger more established non profit also focused on the same issues – Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services (LANHS) – LANHS was founded 25 years ago and is run by Lori Gay, a long time advocate for families in need of counseling and resources on issues related to foreclosure. Our website (http://www.keepyourhomefoundation.com) provides free information and access to resources to those families in need.
I look forward to getting my legal matters behind me so that I can continue to focus on this very important issue and also find ways to help families in the future.