Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Home-Loan Ranger

The secret is apparently out that Bank of America is not happy with me lately. They bought out the crooks at Countrywide and now manage the outrageous, obscene, inflated, slippery mortgage I ended up with two years ago.

They somehow think that I'm going to let go of the little, one-bedroom house I moved into more than 22 years ago. It'll never happen. Where would I put the mountains of stuff I've pack-ratted for decades? They don't make a shopping cart big enough.

Besides, I gave up camping out and sleeping under the stars when I got out of the Army. To me, "roughing it" is a room at Motel 6 next to the loud ice machine.

I knew that my footrace with foreclosure was public knowledge when at least three people told me about some big shindig at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend -- an event where folks like me could go and maybe find some creative way to distract the vultures.

The last thing I figured I'd encounter there today was a conversation with a true urban hero -- I call him The Home-Loan Ranger.

His name is Bruce Marks and he's the founder and CEO of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA). Neighborhood assistance is an understatement. What he runs is more like a guerrilla army.

When I heard him tell the crowd of a couple thousand of my delinquent brethren about how he "gets the attention" of the CEOs of banks and other lending institutions, I darn near wanted to build a stature of him on Figueroa Street or something.

He's doing the stuff I dream of doing. When the rich, fat-cat executives ignore his calls for restructuring the rancid loans his troops are stuck with, he leads a small batallion of them to the CEO's doorstep -- the home doorstep.

He gives out their home phone numbers and encourages everyone and their relatives to call the big wheel at home -- every 15 minutes.

I don't know where I've been that I haven't heard about his delightful tactics or about the other massive gatherings he's been hosting. I had to learn more -- from the horse's mouth.

I waited for him to finish an inspirational pep rally and I approached him with notebook in hand.

It's great to be a journalist. Such access. Such respect (sort of).

Within 20 minutes or so we had found a less-noisy spot and I picked his brain apart.

Then I talked to a few of the thousands of people he had helped this weekend and I began to feel just how much of a Pied Piper the Loan Arranger really is.

Here's a short sample of what he and a couple of others told me:

I'll be heading off in the next couple of weeks to one of his next gatherings in either Phoenix, Las Vegas or Oakland. It turns out I didn't have all of the paperwork that they require. Plus, a couple of weeks gives me some more time to nail down some additional work assignments.

I want to grow up to be like Bruce Marks.

Maybe he needs a sidekick. The Loan Arranger and Donto!

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