Heather McCreary traveled from her Nevada home to Washington, D.C., last week to tell lawmakers about how the OneWest Bank, under the leadership of Donald Trump’s treasury secretary nominee, cost her family dearly. This is her tale.
The Senate held confirmation hearings on Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick for treasury secretary, on January 19. Mr. Mnuchin has had a long career in the financial industry, one which made him extremely wealthy and left behind a trail of financial ruin for tens of thousands of families. My family is one of them. That’s why I flew across the country to Washington, D.C. to watch the confirmation hearing in person and to tell my story at a forum on Capitol Hill hosted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In 2006, my husband and I purchased our “dream home” in Sparks, Nevada. When the Great Recession hit, our dream became a nightmare. We had both lost our jobs, and while my husband was able to find a new job, his wages went from $25 per hour to $8.50. My only income was unemployment insurance.
In an effort to avoid foreclosure, we worked with a local legal aid office to modify our loan to save our home. We jumped through every hoop the bank put in front of us and complied with every request. We were ecstatic when we learned we had been approved for a loan modification.
We followed the directions from the bank, signed the modification agreement, and sent it in along with the first payment. Imagine our shock when the bank returned our check 30 days later stating the check was not certified, personal checks would not be accepted, and so our modification had been voided. We re-applied two more times, and yet, the bank refused to modify our loan. The foreclosure went through and we lost our home on September 10, 2010.
That bank was IndyMac bank, which had recently been bailed out by the FDIC and purchased by a team led by Mr. Mnuchin, who renamed it OneWest Bank. Mnuchin and his investors purchased the bank for pennies on the dollar, with assurances that they would do everything possible to modify mortgages and keep people in their homes.
Mnuchin turned OneWest bank into a foreclosure machine.
Instead, Mnuchin turned OneWest bank into a foreclosure machine, foreclosing on some 50,000 families like mine. Mnuchin and his investors made a bundle in the process, collecting over a billion dollars in dividends, and then selling the bank a few years later for over $3 billion nearly three times what they paid for it.
Should someone who made himself and other wealthy investors even richer while inflicting financial ruin on tens of thousands of families become our next Treasury Secretary? Is this the kind of experience that is suitable for a position that can shape the economic security of millions of Americans? I for one don’t think so.
During the financial crisis that began in 2008, millions of Americans like me lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings. But for a handful of Wall Street insiders, the crisis was an opportunity to make the super rich even richer. I pray our country never faces another Great Recession. But if we do, we need people in positions of power who will look out for those of us who are hit the hardest — not those who only want to enrich themselves.