Pasadena Bank Attempts to Auction off Anaheim Church Known for Serving the Poor

Pasadena Bank Attempts to Auction off Anaheim Church Known for Serving the Poor
Brandon Ferguson

Yet another Orange County foreclosure ground forward on Friday as East West Bank of Pasadena sought to auction an Anaheim church known for its work with the area's homeless population. Members of the Jubilee Prayer Center gathered to oppose the auction, which was scheduled to occur at 3 p.m. on the front steps of the city of Orange civic center. No buyers showed up to bid on the property, which currently remains under bank control.

Members of the Jubilee Prayer Center protest the auction of their church
Members of the Jubilee Prayer Center protest the auction of their church
Brandon Ferguson

Congregants believe the bank's attempt to sell the property is unwarranted and say they made the necessary payments to prevent foreclosure. According to a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court by Huntington Beach attorney Lenore Albert, United Commercial Bank (now East West Bank), approved the church's request for a $700,000 loan back in 2007.

After encountering some financial difficulties and receiving a notice of default in 2010, the church sought to modify its loan. One of the conditions of the modification was that the church become current on its payments--a move that cost more than $17,000. Albert argued in court documents that congregant John Kim made the necessary payment, and continued to make timely payments through 2012. Kim told the Weekly that when the loan was modified in 2010, bank reps said that the loan would be extended for several years.

But in 2012, after spending $70,000 to make improvements on the church, (including ADA-compliant bathrooms and showers), the bank told the church it required a large balloon payment and refused to extend the loan. The bank then began foreclosure proceedings based on the 2010 notice of default.

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"Even though we made the payment, they didn't void the notice of default," Kim told the Weekly on Friday.

Court documents state that the bank's refusal to negotiate plunged the church into an "impossible financial situation."

"It clouded the title and marketability of the property in addition to Mr. Kim's ability to obtain credit and financing," court documents read.

Albert told the Weekly that while East West Bank, which took over United Capital in 2009, has no financial incentive to work out a deal with the church, it doesn't stand to lose much by negotiating.

"[They have] no incentive to negotiate because they never loaned the money in the first place. The bank received the loan from the FDIC for pennies on the dollar after the original bank went under," Albert said. She is currently requesting a jury trial on behalf of the Jubilee Prayer Center.

In recent months, the Weekly has followed Albert's work with the Koshak family in the city of Orange. The Koshaks have accused lenders of forging documents in order to foreclose on the home the family owned since 1996.

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