UC Irvine professor Katherine Porter, who specializes in commercial and consumer law and recently wrote a book on how debt is killing the middle class, was appointed today to oversee the nation's five largest banks providing up to $18 billion in California borrower and homeowner benefits. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris' appointment of Porter as the independent overseer is a byproduct of a mortgage settlement pending in federal court in Washington, D.C., that would penalize banks for robo-signing and other servicing and foreclosure misconduct.
Porter's role will deal solely with compliance in California as Harris "holds banks accountable for their commitments to the state and ensuring that the promised benefits are delivered to homeowners in full and on time," according to a statement from her office, which names Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase among the participating institutions.
"Hundreds of thousands of California homeowners will benefit from the commitments of up to $18 billion extracted from mortgage lenders," says Harris in the release. "We must enforce full and timely compliance with these commitments, and the appointment of Professor Porter as our California monitor is central to that enforcement. Professor Porter's wealth of experience and knowledge will protect the interests of homeowners and ensure the settling banks deliver on their promises."
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"I will work hard to make sure banks hold up their promises to change troubling practices so that families and communities across California see the benefits of the settlement," adds Porter. "Part of repairing the damage of the mortgage crisis is restoring public confidence that our largest financial institutions will treat consumers fairly and follow the law."
Having formerly worked with the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on issues relating to mortgage servicing, Porter is credited with authoring an empirical study that exposed problems that harmed homeowners. Her just-released book is titled Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class.
In her new role, she will review lender filings, homeowner reports and complaints, and other compliance documents to ensure that benefits committed by the banks are performed and result in meaningful relief to California borrowers, according to the AG.