Newsweek op-ed: Puerto Rico can’t afford another crisis, it needs a moratorium on all foreclosures

Photo: Lorie Shaull (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Earlier this week Julio López Varona, the lead signer on recent letters to Blackstone and TPG Capital calling on them to halt foreclosures in Puerto Rico and provide a path for families to stay in their homes, wrote an op-ed in Newsweek calling on TPG, Blackstone, and others avoid creating another crisis for Puerto Rico:

Newsweek, Jan 22, “Puerto Rico can’t afford another crisis, it needs a moratorium on all foreclosures,”

Two days after Hurricane María passed through Puerto Rico, I was able to get in a car and begin what would be the daily task for the next couple of weeks of looking for water and gas. As I stepped outside, I realized that this would not be as with other hurricanes that I had experienced in my childhood. Puerto Rico was destroyed, trees had been stripped out of all their leaves, 100-feet-tall cement poles laying on the ground almost pulverized. It looked like a scene taken out from a movie, and a scary one at that.

Despite this devastating scenario, private equity and other Wall Street companies behind home mortgages continued with their business—filing foreclosures proceedings in Puerto Rican courts to make a profit.

And

While my family, my neighbors and I were struggling to find food and water following Maria and many Puerto Rican families fled the island for their safety, TPG Capital’s and Blackstone’s lawyers have been hard at work foreclosing on Puerto Rican families.  According to Hedge Clippers investigations, Blackstone’s mortgage company Finance of America filed at least two foreclosure suits between September 26 and 29, just days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. As of October 5, TPG’s affiliates had made more than 100 separate motions in Puerto Rican courts to move foreclosure cases forward, in many cases seeking judgments against homeowners who may not even know they are being foreclosed on. This is outrageous and it must stop.

It has been four months since the natural disaster. Too many in Puerto Rico still lack a job, have homes with no roof, electricity or clean water. Under those conditions, it is impossible and inconceivable to expect them to pay for a mortgage.

These companies have a decision to make: Will they continue foreclosure on Puerto Rican families as they are struggling to rebuild their lives and the island’s economy, or will they provide a path for them to stay in their homes?

It’s time to stop foreclosures on the island.

Full op-ed available here.