Congress Hears Plight of San Jose Woman Evicted From Her Home of 41 Years

A seriously ill South San Jose woman who recently was evicted from her home of 41 years by Wells Fargo Bank is receiving support from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who wrote a letter to the bank’s CEO on her behalf.

Darlene Bowland

Darlene Bowland, 68, lost her home through foreclosure proceedings and was evicted last month while undergoing treatment for breast cancer and suing Wells Fargo Bank for fraudulent loan practices. In a Tuesday, December 13, letter to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, Lofgren noted that the bank earned record profits last quarter, and Stumps’ own compensation was $17 million last year.

“Do you know that this woman with cancer is now couch-surfing because you’ve evicted her through foreclosure on her home just before the holidays?” the San Jose congresswoman wrote. Lofgren also read from the letter on the House floor.

“Wells Fargo Bank knew all about Darlene’s tragic circumstances, but apparently did not care.”

In another show of support People Acting in Community Together (PACT), called a news conference on Tuesday, December 6, in front of Bowland’s house, to call attention to victims of predatory lending and the impact of foreclosure on neighborhoods. As part of a national New Bottom Line campaign, PACT is calling for a foreclosure moratorium in December and January.

Last year, 4,240 homes were in foreclosure in Santa Clara County, according to County Assessor Larry Stone.

Darlene Bowland outside the home she lived in for 41 years.

Surrounded by PACT members, at the news conference, San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra and supporters from a local attorney’s office, Bowland faced TV cameras and told the world what she wants for Christmas.

“I just want my home back,” she said.

Bowland has still not found an affordable place to live, and is staying with friends and family members. She was evicted on November 16, after she turned down a $7,500 offer from Wells Fargo to drop the lawsuit. Attempts to keep her home while her case made it through the courts was unsuccessful.

Taking on her legal battle at no charge to her is attorney Wayne Silver with support from the Menekshe Law Firm.

Bowland’s troubles began when she took out a loan for $10,000 to repair floors. At that time, she owned her home outright. With so much equity, she said the loan broker told her that she could easily borrow more and would never lose her home.

According to Bowland and her attorney, she was a victim of a World Savings loan plan called “pick-a-pay” that would need to continually be refinanced. Unemployed on a fixed income, Bowland could not afford the escalating payments. Over the years, the loan grew to $370,000.

“Before I knew it, my home was in foreclosure,” she said. “No one at the bank would help me.”

In statements released to the media, Wells Fargo Bank has maintained that Bowland’s loan was handled legally and properly.

Kalra, who represents Bowland’s area on the San Jose City Council, said that the bank, at best, mislead her, and at worst, committed intentional fraud.

Bowland puts it this way: “I owned this house for 41 years. Wells Fargo Bank stole it from me.”