Daily News: Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Converge on Van Nuys Seminar.

Desperate Southland homeowner plead case toIndyMac bankers

By Tony Castro, Staff Writer

VAN NUYS – Retired cartoon animator Marcia Munn faces foreclosure on the Northridge home she has owned for 24 years, so three weeks after she voted for Barack Obama, she made a desperate public plea to the president-elect.

“Please help me to keep my home,” she begged in a tearful interview. “Please make these banks realize what is happening. They don’t need to make as much money as they think they need to.”

On Saturday, Munn, 61, was among hundreds of Los Angeles-area financially beleaguered homeowners who packed into Van Nuys City Hall in hopes of having IndyMac Federal Bank modify their mortgage loans to avoid foreclosure.

Munn has been so frustrated dealing with the bank that she hoped the nation’s incoming president would hear the voices of people like herself who face losing their homes because banks won’t modify loan terms.

Like Munn, most of those homeowners, waiting in line with long forlorn looks, said they felt helpless and talked of months of unsuccessful negotiations with bank officials.

IndyMac Federal Bank is the institution controlled by the federal government, which manages the assets and liabilities of the failed IndyMac Bank.

IndyMac spokesman Evan Wagner said the more than 400 customers who had signed in by early afternoon would be processed to see if they qualify for loan modifications.

By early afternoon, some homeowners who were just then arriving left when they saw that more thanhalf of those seeking to see bank officials were still waiting in line.

Jesse Perez of Los Angeles said he and his brother, both owners of condominiums they are trying to save from foreclosure, were told by IndyMac representatives to go on the Internet to acquaint themselves with loan modification application procedures.

“They told us we could do this online because they’ve got too many people here today,” Perez said.

The event, billed by the bank as its first “Home Preservation Day,” was organized by the city as part of a campaign to help homeowners struggling to keep their homes amid a financial crisis that has already crippled some banks and makes refinancing and loan modifications more difficult.

“L.A. residents need government and banks to lend a helping hand, not a faulty mortgage, to keep families in their homes and restore the foundation of economic stability,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in a written statement.

Other events include the opening of foreclosure prevention resource centers around the city to offer counseling and foreclosure clinics, beginning with the first in Van Nuys Dec. 10.

On Saturday, Munn and many others trying to avoid foreclosure expressed concern that the rhetoric of public officials wanting to help them appeared to fall on deaf ears with the banks.

Munn, for instance, has been trying for months to have her loan rate modified from 7 percent down to 6 percent in hopes of reducing a monthly mortgage payment of $3,700 to around $3,000 – an amount she said she could easily make on her fixed income that includes a pension, disability payment and Social Security.

“But the bank refuses to modify the loan,” she said. “From $3,700 down even to $3,200, and I could keep my home.”

tony.castro@dailynews.com (818) 713-3761

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