Wells Fargo Bank CEO John Stumpf’s keynote speech to the American Banker Retail Lending Conference on Thursday morning didn’t quite work out like he (or anyone else) expected. Midway through his address, single mom Betty Badro calmly walked up on the stage to confront him over Wells Fargo’s foreclosure polices.
Ms. Badro, who has worked for the State of California for 22 years, attempted to deliver a personal check to the CEO, and tried to explain that she was hoping to forestall a scheduled foreclosure of her home tomorrow, March 15th. Not saying another word, Mr. Stumpf turned his back on Ms. Badro and left the stage.
After months of trying to get Wells Fargo to consider a loan modification, Ms. Badro explained she felt that going to the top man was the only way she could protect the lives of her disabled brother and one of her two children.
She got into trouble with the bank after suffering financial setbacks due to state furloughs and personal health issues. Her finances have now recovered, a HUD-certified housing counselor has reviewed her case, and believes that Ms. Badro qualifies for a loan modification.
After the Wells Fargo CEO left the stage at the luxurious Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Badro was joined by fifty members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Home Defenders League, and Occupy Fights Foreclosures. The group attempted to explain to those in attendance how Wells Fargo has failed the community and the changes that Wells Fargo should make in their foreclosure practices. The audience followed Stumpf’s lead, packing up and leaving.
Thursday’s event was part of a broader campaign of ACCE and the Home Defenders League to push Wells Fargo to change their practices in order to reduce foreclosures. The groups are calling on Wells Fargo to:
• Make principal reduction a core front-end strategy when considering loan modifications;
• Release data on race & income of the homeowners they foreclose on, evict or assist.
• Stop all foreclosures and evictions stop until these steps are put into place.
On Tuesday ACCE released California in Crisis: How Wells Fargo’s Foreclosure Pipeline Is Damaging Local Communities, a report documenting the bank’s failure to negotiate in good faith with financially distressed home owners facing losing their homes.
There’s a happy ending to this story. Betty Badro was notified this afternoon that her foreclosure has been postponed indefinitely.
UPDATES: There are a few more tidbits to the story, including the Wells Fargo reaction in my story today.
Here’s a video of the confrontation: