Not until the work was completed, Marcelino and Josefina Rodriguez said they knew the truth.
They have applied for a PACE home improvement loan of around $ 45,000 with an interest of almost 10% – although they say a woman who works with a contractor tells them their roof and water heater will be free through a government program.
Rodrigueze’s family contacted the authorities, but an annual bill of nearly $ 4,500 was due – a financial blow to the households of four people who earn less than $ 30,000 every year because garment workers are paid based on that share.
If they don’t pay, Marcelino, 67, and Josefina, 64, could lose the Pacoima house they have owned since 2001, which gives them and their son stability after years of bouncing from rental to rental. So to survive, they started selling food and one of their sons said that he had run out of savings.
It worked – until coronavirus cut their income.
“I don’t know how we will pay,” Marcelino Rodriguez said in Spanish through a translator. Losing home “will destroy me.”
As the economy struggles to recover from the damage caused by the corona virus, consumer groups raise fears of a wave of foreclosures coming from PACE’s home improvement loans.
Over the years, the industry has been plagued by accusations that some home improvement contractors are exploiting loan approval processes with weak protection to mislead people into financing that they cannot afford, by informing them that work will be free or that it will cost less than the end .
Consumer lawyers say they see foreclosure driven by PACE even before the current crisis and are now afraid of a surge because the recession is cutting the path of economic life for people who are already living on the brink.
“Our client, who barely holds finances, is now falling off a cliff,” said Stephanie Carroll, a lawyer with Public Counsel, who represented Rodriguezes.
The Clean Energy Assessed Energy Loan, or PACE, first took off in the middle of the last decade – the result of a public-private partnership created to finance energy and water-efficient housing improvements.
Various government authorities regulate the program, which uses private money to help the environment and partners with private lenders to offer loans that are repaid as line items on homeowner’s property tax bills.
Private lenders, in turn, have relied on home improvement contractors to throw in their products and help enlist people for special tax assessment financing. When the consumer signs that the work is done, the lender then pays the contractor directly for the job.
The PACE industry says that overall these programs have been successful and the erroneous stories are the result of several bad actors who have been removed by lenders.
According to PACENation, an industrial trade group, PACE-funded projects in California stood to save, during the repair period, 19.3 million gallons of water and generate greenhouse gas savings equal to taking 1.5 million cars off the road for a year.
Colin Bishopp, the group’s executive director, said that victims of fraud must be “made whole” and his group supports efforts to help borrowers during the current economic crisis. But he said consumer groups overestimated the risk of foreclosure.
“The large number of homeowners who use PACE to upgrade to their homes from the start have positive experiences,” he said.
Consumer groups, however, say that the problem is broader than industry recognizes and that they worry that too many people with PACE loans have been set for failure.
Prior to 2018, the feasibility of a PACE loan was based largely on home equity without the necessary analysis of whether the applicant has income to repay the loan – a mandatory step for mortgage loans.
Contractors can use the lender’s system to see exactly how many are eligible for homeowners, which allows them to launch a product that will wipe out all available equity. Homeowners can then register on a tablet computer that the contractor has submitted to them and the borrower does not always need to talk to the lender to confirm that they understand their financing.
Complaints are very high among seniors and people who do not speak English. Some homeowners accuse the contractor of not showing them all the documents and even set up fake email addresses where the loan documents will be sent and then falsified.
Bishopp said complaints over financing have declined since the country’s package of law came into force in 2018, including those requiring lenders to analyze the ability to pay.
The law, which receives support from several large lenders, requires lenders to call on all borrowers to confirm they understand the financing and prohibit lenders from disclosing to the contractor the total number of finance homeowners who qualify for.
But nearly 145,000 loans worth $ 3.4 billion were outstanding at the end of 2017, before the law took effect, according to state records. And consumer groups say the rules are still too lax, showing allegations of fraud such as those committed by Rodriguezes, who received their loan in 2019.
Los Angeles County cites contractor supervision difficulties as one of the reasons it has recently stopped providing new loans through its program, even though PACE financing is still available in L.A. County through a statewide program.
“Whenever you don’t have the ability to pay for analysis, there is a greater likelihood of people on unreachable loans, “said Tara Twomey, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center. “What the PACE assessment takes is any pillow or breathing space to overcome setbacks.”
At the California State-Wide Community Development Authority, one of the major state-sponsored PACE programs, it’s too early to know the effect that previous guarantee standards will have on borrowers’ ability to repay during declines, said Managing Director James Hamill. But he said his organization was working with other programs throughout the state to help homeowners through an “unprecedented period”.
He has no specifics, but he said that a payment plan is likely an option and that he hopes to announce more this summer.
“We have seen this come with an outbreak,” Hamill said. “We don’t want to confiscate anyone.”
The PACE program, in which Marcelino and Josefina Rodriguez received heat-barrier roofs and energy-efficient water heaters, was established by the California State-Wide Community Development Authority.
Hamill declined to comment on Rodriguezes’ situation.
The Los Angeles County Board of Trustees is expected to receive this month’s report on the possibility of allowing people who still have PACE loans through their program to postpone payments for a year, even though that can prove difficult because the loans have been packaged into securities and sold to investors.
The level of potential difficulty faced by PACE borrowers is difficult to measure because of the complex nature of the financing.
PACENation’s Bishopp said the data on delinquency and foreclosures available showed that despite cases of “horrendous” fraud, lenders did not approve of unreachable loan hordes which were now the main cause of default.
For example, in October, investors in PACE loans have begun the foreclosure process at nine assessments since the program began, representing 0.004% of PACE loans in California, while the overall delinquency rate for PACE loans stood at 1.73%, according to trade. group.
But data from L.A. County shows the PACE delinquency had edged before the pandemic. And consumer lawyers say they see delinquency and foreclosure driven by PACE that won’t appear in industry or district data.
In this case, said the lawyer, people who have the underlying mortgage take PACE assessments that are not affordable and have seen their mortgage officers pay their PACE assessments and then confiscate themselves.
In some cases, homeowners initially pay their property taxes through an escrow mortgage account and lag behind their mortgage after the service provider adjusts their payments to reflect their new PACE valuation. In other cases, homeowners pay their property taxes separately, but the maids do it anyway.
Stacey Tutt, director of the UC Irvine Consumer Law Clinic, said that any government assistance needs to address such cases and that since the fall of 2018 her clinic has handled eight cases in which mortgage officers commenced foreclosures due to PACE difficulties, an amount he calls significant considering that limited clinical capacity.
Public Counsel, meanwhile, took 76 new clients last year who had been left behind because of their mortgages or would be due to PACE difficulties, up from 42 in 2018, according to lawyer Nisha Kashyap.
Going forward, a patience mortgage program, created to provide relief from pandemic economic pressures, stands to give some borrowers extra time to get back income or sell their homes.
Marcelino and Josefina Rodriguez have not received a seizure notice but have an underlying mortgage and fear they will eventually lose their home.
The couple said their nightmare began last year when a woman who gave her name when Kelly appeared at their door, asked for Marcelino’s name and said there was a problem with their water heater.
Rodrigueze’s family said the woman told them that the free government program would replace her and they trusted her because she knew the name Marcelino and they thought she was a non-profit organization that had previously given them other free home repairs.
When the women and workers showed up to replace their water heaters, Marcelino Rodriguez, said workers damaged their roofs and the woman said the government program could replace them for free too.
Their PACE loan documents, which according to Rodriguezes have their fake electronic signatures, show a non-profit business called Eco Technology is a contractor that installs water heaters and roofs. And the last time Kelly visited their home, they said, she was wearing an Eco Technology T-shirt.
Rodrigueze’s family said that after their work was done, a neighbor who used the same contractor warned them that he had applied for a loan without his permission.
Marcelino’s son, Daniel, said he then called the lender, PACE Funding Group, and found that his parents also had loans through the company – even though they said they had never signed the document, nor had there been a telephone call with the lender to confirm the financing.
The California Department of Business Supervision recently banned Eco Technology from working with lenders to offer PACE loans, accusing the Encino company of falsely telling some homeowners that they would get free home repairs through a government program and then, to make a deal, sign fake customers and homeowners who are imitated in calls with lenders.
This is the first time the department has made such a move since the 2018 reforms giving it authority, but the accusations reflect PACE Funding complaints made in the 2019 lawsuit against Technology Technology, as well as accusations homeowners have made for years against other contractors.
Eco Technology, through its lawyers at Plumtree & Associates, denied the allegations and said the company did not fake Rodriguezes’ signature or commit fraud in any case.
Nick Brunner from Plumtree & Associates said Eco Technology also denied that anyone from the company told Rodriguezes that they would complete the work for free.
“If someone goes to Rodriguezes’ house and makes this representation, it is never forgiven by Eco, it is never supported by Eco,” he said.
According to their bank statement from just before Rodriguezes received their PACE loan in 2019, their home improvement and mortgage financing could be estimated to have taken almost 70% of their gross income, far above the recommended level.
In an e-mail, the PACE Funding Group’s compliance head, Ryan Griffin, declined to comment on Rodriguezes’ situation, citing the PACE Funding Fund’s lawsuit against Eco Technology.
But he said that the PACE Funding is “investigating and responding” to any homeowner complaint involving Eco Technology “in an effort to help facilitate fair results for homeowners.”
When asked if someone with Rodriguezes’ debt-to-income ratio would qualify for PACE’s assessment through the company, Griffin said it was “very unlikely.” He did not respond to a follow-up question asking what type of income documentation was needed for PACE Funding before approving the loan and whether he conducted an independent check to verify that the income documentation was accurate.
Kashyap’s General Counsel, who represented the Rodriguezes, said that PACE lenders were required to verify the homeowner’s income and the fact that his client received the loan showed that there was something “wrong in the approval process.”
“This loan should not have been approved,” he said.
Meanwhile, Daniel Rodriguez is worried about his father’s health. Not only does Marcelino suffer from diabetes and is at greater risk for serious complications if he contracts COVID-19, he also does not sleep, worried that the house where he works so hard will disappear.
“This is the year of hell,” said Daniel Rodriguez. “This damage caused by stress is what worries me most.”
Marcelino Rodriguez called what happened to his family injustice: “They always tell me that everything will be free.”
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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.
Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.
A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.
“There are tickets Ptix.bm For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.
Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.
“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.
“Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.
CRISTANO RONALDO CAN MAKE UP A GIANT IN CARIOCA AND PORTUGUESE TECHNICIAN SAYS ‘There will be room’
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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.
Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.
According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”
In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.
The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.
In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.
From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.
Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.
“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.
“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.
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