Law professor and bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren sought to highlight her credentials as a consumer watchdog in a visit to Jamaica Plain on Tuesday.
The Cambridge Democrat is the presumptive nominee to face Sen. Scott Brown, R, in the fall. She met at bustling with people facing foreclosure who are being helped by the JP nonprofit .
"Families across this Commonwealth have been hammered in the financial crisis," Warren said . "It's important to remember that this crisis started one lousy mortgage at a time."
JP's Heather Gordon, whose Mendell Way home has been in foreclosure since 2008, was among those who told Warren their stories. About 13 people sat at tables in the bakery/coffee shop, surrounded by media.
Gordon said she has lived in the Medell Way home since 1992. She started having trouble paying her mortgage after losing her job at JP Morgan Chase. With help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission she got disability benefits from the company. Since then she has gone through multiple bankruptcies. Her mortgage rates have gone as high as 22 percent, she said.
The home, which backs up to the , was in bad shape when she bought it, she said. It had been taken over by vandals and was used to deal drugs, she said. She cleaned up the property.
"Now it's desirable to outsiders," Gordon said.
Warren held hands with Gordon as she told part of her tale. At the end, Warren said reforms like putting all crucial mortgage information on a simple 2-page form would have prevented a lot of bad mortgages.
"They tricked you," Warren said to Gordon. Warren said the form would boil down essentials so that consumers could not only compare mortgage offers, but also check to make sure that the deal they were promised is the one being signed.
Several of the City Life clients who spoke talked about getting a run-around from mortgage service companies who repeatedly said they had not received paperwork that the mortgage holders swore they had sent.
"The law is not that complicated," Warren said. "But they [the mortgage service companies] make more money if they don't follow the law."
City Life client Carolyn Grant, whose home is also in foreclosure, took aim at the GOP.
"The Republicans say we're lazy and it's our fault," Grant said to Warren. "We're looking to you to help us fight."
On several occasions, homeowners' jabs against Republicans brought applause from the group.
Warren, when she was an adviser to the Obama administration, came up with the idea for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The new government arm was eventually established, but Obama did not choose her to lead it.
Recent polls put Warren behind the incumbent Brown.