Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009 | 2:38 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointedly criticized Bank of America today for not doing enough to help Nevada homeowners during the mortgage crisis, warning that the company must bring more resources to the state or face public scrutiny.
“I appreciate the significant burden that the foreclosure crisis has placed on your servicing division, but I suggest your Nevada mortgage customers, Nevada’s housing market and, indeed, your company’s reputation will all suffer more unless more of B of A’s resources are directed to our state,” Reid wrote in a letter to the bank.
“Simply put -- B of A must do more.”
Reid’s letter to the banking giant comes as the Obama administration is pressuring lenders to step up efforts to modify mortgages and help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
Obama’s signature housing rescue program, Making Home Affordable, has struggled in part because lenders have not modified as many mortgages as initially expected. An assistant Treasury secretary said last week that some institutions “ought to be embarrassed, and they will be.”
Reid, in the letter to bank president Barbara Desoer, called on Bank of America to bring greater resources to Nevada by establishing a loan assistance center in the state staffed by mortgage modification experts. He said other companies have done so in other cities.
Reid also asked Bank of America to provide staff dedicated to handling its cases before the state’s new foreclosure mediation program.
In the letter, Reid said that 40 percent of the housing assistance cases his Las Vegas office is handling involve home loans from Bank of America which, Reid writes, “is in part a reflection of your company’s presence in Nevada but perhaps also an unfortunate indication of the difficulties your Nevada customers have encountered when approaching B of A for relief.”
“In too many instances where my staff connects a constituent with a B of A employee to discuss a modification, the constituent later reports that B of A failed to be of any assistance.”
Reid goes on to scold the company for its performance in the state’s new foreclosure mediation program. Of the eight mediations involving B of A since the program was launched this year, seven resulted in the mediator’s conclusion of “bad faith” on the part of the B of A representative, the senator wrote.
A spokesman for Bank of America did not immediately respond for comment.