Tag Archives: Training

Rampant Foreclosures Under Shady Companies

RoundPoint Mortgage services hundreds of DASP mortgages in Philadelphia through shell companies with names like Newlands Asset Holding Trust or Queens Park Oval Asset Trust, all based out of the same anonymous North Carolina office building. Newlands, a company with no listed phone number, no website and a single publicly disclosed employee has accumulated 46 properties in Philadelphia through foreclosure proceedings.

It has flipped about 10 of those properties. In one instance, Newlands foreclosed on 3687 Belgrade Street, a newly built townhouse in a middle-class neighborhood of Philadelphia, for just $65,000 in February 2014, two months after it had picked up the mortgage at a DASP sale. Another two months later, having made no major improvements to the property, Newlands resold the same house for $175,000.

These are in the minority of properties, however. In the majority of cases, private equity firms appear to mainly sit on the properties they accumulate, sometimes for years. If DASP buyers are renting out their new assets while they wait for home values to appreciate, many do not appear to be doing so legally: Out of dozens of properties owned by Newlands analyzed by City & State, none had received a rental license.

City & State reached out to both HUD and RoundPoint for comment on multiple occasions, but received no reply from
either entity.

Philadelphia councilmember Gym said she believed this process is increasing the number of vacant and rental properties in urban neighborhoods, in addition to other stressors.

“When you have homeowners who are evicted or who lose their homes, that has dramatic consequences for a city like ours that already struggles with poverty,” she said. “We have affordable housing waitlists that take years and homeless shelters that are overcrowded. We can’t fix it all.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Gym is part of Local Progress, a network of local elected officials that has pushed for reforms to programs like DASP. In June, HUD announced that it would make an effort to steer more distressed mortgages to nonprofit buyers, who would ideally be more forgiving towards impoverished homeowners. Nonprofit mortgage buyers, known as community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, were previously outbid on 98 percent of DASP sales.

HUD now separates out some mortgages for sale specifically to nonprofits. But Gym would like to see the program go further.

“That’s one of our biggest questions. Does it all have to go to private equity or could some go to CDFIs? Or the land bank?” she said, in a recent interview.

Gym had been a champion of the land bank, an arm of City Hall that acquires blighted property. She said she believes the agency could also function as a receiver for distressed mortgages, cribbing off a model implemented in New York City, where the municipality began bidding on DASP sales.

“It’s driven by our need to not increase our homelessness and eviction rates, and not lead to blight. Because we were seeing so much,” she said. “The consequences both to individuals and communities are dramatic – the Fed not being attentive to problems like this exacerbates our local situations.”

Changing the trajectory of DASP for future homeowners can seem like a daunting and risky proposition for cities like Philadelphia, but it could stave off years of misery and legal battles for homeowners who find themselves in situations similar to Beverly Henry’s.

Henry admits even she is overwhelmed by the intricacies of her own mortgage crisis at times, but says she is driven by a simple and understandable urge.

“We just don’t want to lose our home.” 

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The Man In The Penguin Suit

An Excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography, “The Man in the Penguin Suit”, about my time as a US Marine stationed in Japan during the seventies.

Act 1, Scene 4

I graduated from the Naval School of Music and went to my first duty station in Iwakuni, Japan. After sleeping for a day due to the jet lag and crossing the International Date Line for the first time, I was met by a friend from the School of Music who came to the receiving barracks and said, “Douglas, get up, time to show you Iwakuni and get you settled in the Barracks!” LOL. I think I lost a couple of days there with the Moose River Hummers, the Bar Hostess’s, checking into base and playing a Christmas Concert that to this day I do not have any recollections of doing, but I did it well, obviously.
Life in Japan was wonderful and what a great adventure! Outside the front gate was Four Corner and Three Corner and that was my first area to become aquainted with. There was Wimpys for late night burgers and such with a Japanese twist, the New Manhattan Bar which is where the First Marine Aircraft Wing Band hung out, Jimmy Son, Mike Son, Michi Cho, Tomi Cho and Sachici Cho. Hiroshima was not that far away and Tokyo on the Bullet train was only a couple of fun hours away.
I could talk about the people we performed for both in the band and otherwise, but I prefer to talk about us, the ones in the Uniform or as the title of this book says, the Man In The Penguin Suit.
Being a part of a wonderful unit is always fantastic and when the finished product comes together in a performance it is very fulfilling! However, in my journeys around the globe there is one thing that stands out to me. People may know the organization and the sound of the individual people, but does the audience actually know the people in the orchestra, band or group? It’s interesting as listening to people talk, they can wax poetic over the last performance of Cher but do not really know the back up people, the stage hands, the light techs or the ones that make everything come together for that one stellar moment in time, the performance.
I guess I was lucky at times as I did a lot of solo work in Japan and the Far
east along with Australia during this time frame and thought I was making a name for myself. What I learned was that as a Marine, I was representing not only the Marine Corps but also the United States as pwhat we did in the world of Public Relations was what a lot of people saw as a product of the United States. Being in the Marines also was not limited to combat situations as we were also involved in Special Olympics around the world, working with orphanages, some of us volunteering our time to help build schools, homes, teaching, sharing with others in the civilian world. But the thing that stood out was being a United State Marine and in the Full Dress blues, that appeared to be all that was needed as part of the unit. By the way, just to clarify, I am very proud and honored to have earned the title of United States Marine, but what do I do after my time in the Corps?
While I was in Japan, I took the time when we had liberty, to travel to the home of the Suzuki Institute as the Suzuki method was new and it was unique to me! I met the creator of the method and had some wonderful enlightening conversations over tea and sushi with him about adaptability and other things, including working on my Japanese. I also traveled a lot to Tokyo on the Bullet Train and hung out in the Yamaha store trying out the horns and just having a grand old time when I met some of the designers and instrument repair people there. It was quite interesting as a Buffet man, that they actually wanted my input on a new line of clarinets they were developing and the new line of saxophones. Imagine that, a young Marine possibly affecting the next generation of musicians. I felt a bit overwhelmed later at the Clarinet Convention where I tried out those lines of instruments. Humm, maybe I’m more respected than I thought. Oh well, moving right along.

(Stay Tuned!  It gets better!)