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Photo of disabled contractor Bobby Hall, who is getting his mortgage modified this month after a long foreclosure fight with Bank of America and USB. Provided photo

, Star Tribune

A fight to keep home leads to a new loan

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY
  • Star Tribune
  • March 17, 2012 - 2:42 PM

Bank of America and U.S. Bank messed with the wrong Marine, you might say.

Bobby Hull, 58, faced eviction from his home after it was sold at a sheriff's auction several months ago for $83,000 to U.S. Bank, acting as trustee for a batch of Bank of America-issued mortgage securities that included Hull's then-delinquent loan.

Hull, a disabled contractor, bought the south Minneapolis house from his late mother while on active duty 40 years ago.

He refinanced into a $275,000 loan with Countrywide Mortgage in 2005, partly to raise capital for his plastering business. Bank of America bought failing Countrywide several years ago and has been coping with its anything-goes underwriting standards ever since.

Hull got in trouble thanks to a divorce, loss of his former wife's income, and a series of heart attacks and shoulder surgeries over several years that kept him out of work and behind in his payments. Hull's house is assessed for tax purposes today at about $150,000.

Hull, a longtime youth volunteer, also is active in the "Occupy Minneapolis" anti-foreclosure movement that has had some success, along with the federal government, in pushing lenders to renegotiate loan terms.

An appearance on the populist-leaning "Ed Schultz Show" on MSNBC last December didn't hurt.

Bank of America commenced talks on a loan modification after that, and a grateful Hull has accepted a modified mortgage.

Hull, who is living on Social Security disability insurance and a small pension, said he can afford the new payment. Neither he nor Bank of America would specify the terms.

U.S. Bank said it wasn't a decider in the matter, but only a trustee, ensuring that payments are made between Bank of America, which calls the shots on the underlying property, and investors in the mortgage-backed securities pool.

JOBZ yields more jobs

Minnesota's jobs-subsidy program for outstate communities produced more jobs in 2010 after faltering during the recession.

Participating employers have gotten $184.5 million in sales, property and other tax breaks over seven years in return for hiring 7,113 workers, according to the Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) annual report released last week. That's $25,900 in tax breaks per job. The jobs offer an average wage of $17.36 per hour, said a report by the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, which oversees the program. Overall, the number of jobs credited to JOBZ increased by 12 percent in 2010 to a new high. That followed a 9 percent decline in cumulative jobs in 2009.

In the past two years, the state clawed back $164,000 from employers who took tax breaks but didn't hire people as promised, the department said. The program and subsidies end Dec. 31, 2015. DAVID SHAFFER

Carlson MBA program ranks No. 28

The University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management MBA program was ranked 28th in the nation in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking.

The top five were the University of Chicago, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Northwestern University (Kellogg) and Stanford University.

In its first year of eligibility, the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas, the other big business school in town, ranked 104th among the 441 U.S.-based, "accredited" programs able to take part in the survey. After a five-year process, the Opus College became the first private college in Minnesota to receive the nod from the Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business Accreditation in December 2010.

"To move from being unranked to the top 25 percent is a wonderful affirmation," said Dean Christopher Puto. "This initial ranking recognizes the efforts of our faculty, staff, students and benefactors."

Meanwhile, the expanded Carlson undergraduate school was ranked 30th, the engineering school 27th; the law school 20th and medical school 34th.

Green efforts are celebrated

The Downtown Improvement District, a group of property owners who assess themselves on top of local property taxes to help take care of downtown Minneapolis, has announced its annual Greening and Public Realm Awards.

David Wilson, managing partner at Accenture and chair of the DID greening committee, said the idea is celebrate "shining examples of downtown greening," such as trees amid the concrete jungle, and to "inspire" others.

The Hennepin County Government Center was named best park and the 205 Park Av. parking lot was named the best-landscaped lot. Vincent, A Restaurant, and Brits Pub, got the nod for their coordinated sidewalk planters and boxes at 11th Street and Nicollet Mall. More information: www.minneapolisdid.com.

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