Property re-evaluation time. Check here for Prop 8 info.

Riverside County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder Larry Ward has published information on Proposition 8. Unlike some counties, in Riverside Larry takes the initiative to automatically evaluate property values every year and has reduced values (and taxes) in each of the past 3 years. The office is in the midst of looking at the market again this year to see if a wholesale reassessment will again be utilized or if the demand might be met by simply allowing individual homeowners to file their own reassessment requests if they think their values have declined further during the past 12 months (for the most part, they have not). However, if you would like to find out more and get a copy of what you’ll need to file if you do, please visit Larry by clicking on his homepage.

Also note the prominent warning about the so-called ‘Riverside County Tax Authority’ mailer soliciting $167 to produce a copy of your grant deed. Larry will be happy to get you one for about $10 or $20 bucks. Don’t get conned. Check with the authority first.

larry ward

66th Assemblyman Jeffries Introduces Reform Package

66th District Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries has introduced a series of bills and constitutional amendments that seek to reform some of what’s wrong in  Sacramento. Until we replace about 2/3 of the legislature with honest citizen legislators on a part-time basis we won’t be able to resolve all the issues but this package is a good start.

Yesterday I wrote about AB 1672 which seeks to make the powerful and unaccountable Air Resources Board an elected body instead of the current patronage appointee body. Jeffries has five others in the hopper which, unfortunately, make too much sense to gain much traction in our Capitol.

According to Jeffries, “It is becoming increasingly clear that in addition to the economic and budgetary problems we face in Sacramento, we have serious problems with the way the people’s business is conducted. Too many decisions are made in the dead of night or behind closed doors. How can we possibly arrive at the right solutions for our state when the process itself is so badly broken?”

AB 1671 – Riverside County recently suffered a vacancy on our Board of Supervisors following the untimely death of a member. The position sat vacant with the county being unable to field a quorum on some issues while we waited for the Governor to appoint a replacement. AB 1671 gets the Governor out of what should be a local decision allowing locally elected and accountable county boards to fill their own vacancies or call a special election to fill mid-term vacancies.

ACA 29 – Would create a 2 year budget cycle in which the first year wold be entirely devoted to passing a budget and reviewing our spending priorities. The second year would be devoted to policy matter, programs and oversight. This would allow school districts, local governments and private industry more certainty in their dealings with Sacramento and their own budget process and would eliminate the annual budget wars that consume most of our year every year.

ACA 30 – Seeks to abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor. This waste of space office has few, if any, official duties, it sucks up unnecessary tax dollars for an antiquated and largely ceremonial position, and the duties could easily be assumed by the Secretary of State’s office. Lieutenant Governor has been referred to as the ‘easiest elected job in Sacramento’ and is a running joke even for those elected. The position is currently vacant and most people don’t even know it.

ACA 31 – The ‘Sunshine Law’ would require all legislative sessions (except in limited emergency situations) to be conducted between the hours of 9am and 9 pm. In recent years our budget battles have resulted in ‘lockdowns’ where our legislators were literally locked into chambers overnight until a bill was passed. This has resulted in some really stupid stuff getting passed out of sight of the public and the media. Media’s role is largely relegated to posting pictures of lawmakers sleeping at their desks while the public is prevented from knowing what’s going on until it’s too late.

ACA 8 – This is not a new bill but one that Jeffries is hopeful will see the light of day this year. This bill would require all legislation to be in print at least 24 hours prior to a vote. It would eliminate Sacramento’s propensity to dump hundreds of pages of a bill onto a legislators desk minutes before a vote is taken. This bill, designed to shine a light on back room deals, has been help hostage in a committee back room for over a year.

“All these bills are serious challenges to the status quo but I believe these ideas can increase public involvement and accountability, reduce bureaucracy, and start returning power to local governments and away from state government that has proven itself incapable of governing in an open and deliberative manner.”

Well, good luck with that, Kevin. Here’s hoping at least a couple of these get passed – but given the current state of affairs in Sacramento, I’m not too optomistic.

New County Annual Report Available


County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder Larry Ward has just released his 2009-2010 Annual Report and it’s chock full of all kinds of exciting stuff – and some not so exciting.

I’ll just tease you with a few details but for the full scoop you’ve got to follow the link at the bottom to find the details.

For example, did you know that:

  • The Riverside County tax roll value (before exemptions) dropped 10.51% last year – from $242.98 Billion to $217.44?
  • There are 500,292 single family residences in the County worth $120,318,983,044. They represent 57.54% of the tax base with an average value of $240,498?
  • 253,364 of those received a reduction in assessed value last year averaging $144,432 and a total of $36,593,784,694 was lopped off the tax rolls as a result? That’s 15.44% of the total.
  • Indian Wells has 4 of the 5 largest homes in the county at 22,597; 20,499,; 19,188; and 18,404 SqFt. Palm Desert snuck in #2 at 20,667?
  • The Palm Desert place is assessed at $26,619,674 while the Indian Wells places are $16,611,951; 12,180,881; 11,935,337 and $11,736,743? (He doesn’t say if they applied for a reduction in value last year).
  • There were 36,191 appeals last year, up from 12,330 in 2008 and 2,909 in 2007. Remember those days?
  • In Murrieta there were 19,113 homes re-assessed under Prop 8. Gross Value Assessment rolls dropped 14.92% from $11,885,525,613 to $10,112,353,803?
  • In Temecula there were 16,110 homes re-assessed. GVA dropped 11.33% from 13,537,557,997 to $12,003,546,129?
  • The top business in the County based on Business Personal Property was Abbott Vascular. International Rectifier came in at #14?

Well, there’s a ton more great info available – the report runs to 40 pages of numbers, charts & graphs and a terrific summary of each of our cities. . You can find the whole shebang right here: Assessor/Clerk/Recorder 2009-2010 Annual Report.

How Much Is The New State Budget Taking From YOUR City?

Nice article in the on-line Sacramento Bee. Plug in your county and city and/or agency and see how much the recently passed state budget will be costing them. Of course it’s not a tax – they are just ‘borrowing’ an extra $15.00 per resident. I’m looking forward to the day they pay that back. They’ve been borrowing from cities and other agencies for years. Anybody who runs their business in a style that actually makes money is likely to see that money stolen – um, borrowed by the state.

On the plus side they remind us that –  Some of these lost funds will be offset by A) federal stimulus money and B) the ability of local governments to borrow lost property tax revenue against the state’s promised repayment. So the state taketh and forceth us to rely on yet more Obama bail-outs for subsistence. Like the federal gov’t is flush with cash. Oh, I forgot, they own the mints – they can just make more and it’s, like, FREE that way, isn’t it?

Database: See how much your local government will lose under state budget

Government entity County Type of government Estimated amount state will borrow or take this fiscal yearDescending Amount borrowed per resident
Wildomar Riverside City Government $0 $0
Murrieta Riverside City Government $1,483,325 $15
Murrieta Redevelopment Agency Riverside Redevelopment Agency $2,548,524
Lake Elsinore Riverside City Government $684,923 $14
Lake Elsinore Redevelopment Agency Riverside Redevelopment Agency $6,970,262
Temecula Riverside City Government $1,543,055 $15
Menifee Riverside City Government $14,236 $0

Riverside County Assessor Releases 2009-2010 Value Reports


The Riverside County Assessor-Clerk-Recorders Office has just released a series of reports providing us more information than we could possibly want to know about the state of housing in Riverside County as shown by assessed property values.

If you’re curious about 2009-2010 Assessed Values by City, for example, you’ll find that the local roll shows Murrieta with an assessed value of $10,112,353,803. After backing out exemptions, we’re left with a net taxable value of $9,886,016,688 or a drop of 15.43% from last years $11,689,213,209. That’s a drop in taxable value of nearly $2 Billion dollars!. Temecula dropped 11.6% and Lake Elsinore lost 17.7%.

You might be interested in the Assessed Value by Base Year or the expanded version showing Historical Assessed Value Data. Here the information shows a county-wide reduction of 10.5% from 2008-2009’s record $242,980,389,491 to the current $217,439,570,318. This chart also shows the growth curve which saw property values explode by more than 130% between 2001 and 2007. We sometimes hear this market compared to the downturn we saw in the mid-90’s but this chart clearly shows that in 1994 county values plummeted by .04% and another .71% in 1996. Maybe we really are in uncharted territory.

As Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward outlined to our Brokers last month, his office has adjusted values according to Prop 8 on nearly 450,000 properties county-wide, many back to their 2001 levels. His report on Prop 8 Totals by Tax Rate Area shows that adjustments were made to 16,110 properties in Temecula reducing their value by $2,473,228,545. Murrieta saw a drop of $2,902,221,990 on 19,113 properties and Lake Elsinore lost $1,301,701,549 on 8,958 properties. Even our newest cities saw their projected revenue stream drop – $602,365,820 for 4,786 properties in Wildomar and Menifee lost $2,141,053,496 on 17,187 adjustments.

You might not like the numbers but it appears that Larry Ward is doing his job. He has taken a very proactive role in pursuing Prop 8 which, though many homeowners feel is not enough, appears to have been very fairly applied. With a keen appreciation for the impact this will have on our cities revenue stream, he has provided comprehensive and detailed data to allow our cities to address the situation before the actual impact is fully realized during the next tax year.

If current forecasts hold true, Southern California may be through the worst of the crisis and next years reports may be somewhat more positive. In remarks to us last week at our Government Affairs Institute, National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun opined that California appears to have turned the corner. Citing strong sales, reduced inventories and stabilizing median price levels, Dr. Yun cautiously forecast that some areas, especially in Southern California, could see 4% to 5% appreciation in housing values in 2010.

While that may be somewhat rosy given the ramp-up in foreclosure and unemployment activity in the area, local median prices have indeed been stable for several months. Our July inventory dropped to it’s lowest period in years showing existing home inventories ranging from 1.8 to 2.2 months – an unhealthily low level. While more than 17,000 Riverside County homes entered the foreclosure process in the past 120 days, over 7,000 sold. Many properties received multiple multiple offers (20 to 30 is not uncommon, some as many as 60 – 90 with up to 1/3 of those being cash offers). Even if the fabled ‘shadow inventory’ was all released tomorrow, it could handily be absorbed in short order given current sales trends.

Anyway, there’s a lot of data available on the county website. How to avoid fraud, foreclosure information and referral resources and much more. There’s also a raft of current statewide sales data and forecasts available at the California Association of Realtors website and for the latest LOCAL updates and charts, always check the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors website and blog.

RivCo Neighborhood Stabilization Program


Information available on the Riverside County Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership Program

The Economic Development Agency (EDA) has a new program called the Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership Program (NSHP) which will provide down-payment assistance and home repair to qualified first-time homebuyer families for the purchase of foreclosed homes throughout Riverside County.

What is the Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership (NSHP) Program?

The Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) is offering a Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership Program (NSHP). The primary objective is to address the problem of abandoned and foreclosed homes in targeted areas within Riverside County. The Program will be available to anyone who has not owned a home in the last three years, has an annual income that is not greater than 120% of the area median income as published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and is purchasing a foreclosed home in the County of Riverside. This Program will provide down-payment assistance as a silent second loan in the amount of twenty percent (20%) of the purchase price of the home. EDA down payment assistance will be secured by a deed of trust recorded in second position. The first loan must be a fully amortized, fixed rate; thirty-year mortgage.

What is the NSHP Home Repair Assistance Program?

The Program can also provide home repair assistance to the home purchased, incorporating energy-efficient improvements which will provide long-term affordability, increased sustainability and attractive housing and neighborhoods. Activities in the NSHP home repair assistance will include items such as curb appeal and landscaping after the close of escrow. However, all home repair items will be identified prior to closing. Total combined amount of down payment assistance and home repair assistance can not exceed $75,000. NSHP Repair Assistance will be secured by a deed of trust recorded in third position, behind the first mortgage and second deed of trust for the down payment assistance.

Program Update

Attention: (NSHP) Training- For Current EDA Approved Lenders

The Riverside County Economic Development Agency (EDA) is launching the Neighborhood Stabilization Homeownership for future homebuyers within Riverside County.

If you are interested in applying please contact one of the approved lenders.

Riverside County Mortgage Credit Cert Program


Information o the Riverside County Mortgage Credit Certificate.

A Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) entitles qualified home buyers to reduce the amount of their federal income tax liability by an amount equal to a portion of the interest paid during the year on a home mortgage. This tax credit allows the buyer to qualify more easily for a loan by increasing the effective income of the buyer. The Riverside County MCC Program provides for a fifteen percent (15%) rate which can be applied to the interest paid on the mortgage loan. The borrower can claim a tax credit equal to 15% of the interest paid during the year. Since the borrowers taxes are being reduced by the amount of the credit, this increases the take-home pay by the amount of the credit. The buyer takes the remaining 85% interest as a deduction. When underwriting the loan, a lender takes this into consideration and the borrower is able to qualify for a larger loan than would otherwise be possible. The following table illustrates how a MCC increases a borrower’s “effective home buying power”:

Effective Home Buying Power With and Without an MCC

Without MCC

With MCC

First Mortgage Amount



Mortgage Interest Rate



Monthly Mortgage (Principal & Interest Only)



MCC Rate



Monthly Credit Amount



“Effective” Monthly Mortgage Payment



Annual Income Needed *



* Annual Income Needed is based on monthly Principal and Interest (P&I) not exceeding 28% of monthly income.

How does a Mortgage Credit Certificate actually work?

Assume the homebuyer bought a home with a mortgage amount of $300,000 with an interest rate of 7% with the monthly mortgage payment of $1,996 as illustrated in the previous page.

(1) The homebuyer would pay a total of $300,000 x 0.07= $21,000 of interest in the first year (Loan amount x interest rate).

(2) Because the homebuyer has a Mortgage Credit Certificate, the homebuyer could receive a federal income tax credit of $3,150 (15% x $21,000). If the homebuyer income tax liability is $3,150 or greater, the homebuyer will receive the full benefit of the MCC tax credit. If the amount of homebuyer tax credit exceeds the amount of his/her tax liability, the unused portion can be carried forward (up to three years) to offset future income tax liability.

(3) The remaining 85% of the mortgage interest or $17,850 ($21,000 less $3,150) qualifies as an itemized income tax deduction.

(4) To receive immediate benefit of the MCC tax credit, the homebuyer would file a revised W-4 withholding from with the homebuyer’s employer to reduce the amount of federal income tax withheld from his/her wages and increase homebuyer’s take home pay by $262 per month ($3,150/12 )

(5) By applying the increase in the homebuyer take home pay of $262 towards his monthly mortgage payment of $1,996, his effective monthly payment becomes $1,734 ($1,996 minus $262).

“Tax Credit” vs. “Tax Deduction”

A “tax credit” entitles a tax payer to subtract the amount of credit from their total federal tax bill whereas a “tax deduction” is subtracted from adjusted gross income before federal income taxes are computed.

Qualifying for the MCC Program

The three basic qualifications are:

(1) The borrower must be a first time Home Buyer;

(2) The borrowers annual income must fall within the program income limits; and

(3) The home being purchased must fall within the program purchase price limits. If the home is located in a Target Area, then the first-time buyer limitation does not apply and the income and cost limits are higher.

Another California Crisis – RivCo Water Symposium


Today marked the 6th Annual Riverside County Water Symposium. The event featured a series of panels and speakers discussing the water challenges facing our state today. The keynote was delivered by Michael Chrisman, California Secretary for Natural Resources.

Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley set the tone by stating that we are literally playing Russian Roulette with the Sacramento Delta. One little mis-hap, a flood, an earthquake, terrorist threat or an angry gopher could disrupt the water supply to 25 million Californians and dramatically impact the economy of this state for decades. As he noted, we’d be up a creek all right but it would be a dry creek. We can’t conserve our way out of this mess – we must address and resolve some of the fundamental problems with our systems starting with the Sacramento Delta. When the Delta fails – not if but when, it will make Katrina and Andrew look like childs play in terms of damage to the area, the ecosystem and the state’s economy.

I don’t think it comes as a big surprise that our water systems, much of it built 30 – 50 years ago, was never designed or intended to meet today’s demand. And while environmental concerns have acted to restrict the flow of existing water (see Delta Smelt), those same concerns have prevented us from developing new resources or re-working other solutions (peripheral canal). In the past 100 years we’ve relied on big projects, big technological developments and throwing big money at it. That’s not viable in the 21st Century where we face higher demand with fewer resources and less money.

One thing they all agreed on, we’ve witnessed the end of the era of cheap water. You are no longer assured of getting all the water you want – rather they’ll be working hard just to get you all the water you  need, and at a price you can still afford. After all, Western Municipal, which provides most of  Southern California’s water to our local providers, is implementing a 19.7% increase this September followed by another 21% jump in 2011.  Tiered pricing will become the norm with conservation being rewarded while profligate use will be penalized. After all, upwards of 80% of domestic water use is OUTSIDE the home with as much as 50% of that is wasted in run-off, over-spray, etc.  If homeowners worked their land like farmers, we could dramatically decrease water usage. But even reduced usage will eventually result in higher bills as infrastructure improvements are required.

Some positive notes – from John Rossi, GM of Western Municipal – ‘In every crisis is an opportunity’.  This may be the best time in 25 years to actually fund and implement some real solutions in the Delta in spite of California’s economy. But the timing is critical and they are forming coalitions to get active on this NOW. They are encouraged to be working with some of the groups that have been adversaries in the past but have a new view of what can and should happen to the Delta going forward. They are asking Sacramento to stop politicizing the issue. The resource is neither a Democratic nor a Republican resource and the resolution to the issue will be derived by working together. They also wish Sacramento would focus on getting it’s own act together and quit issuing new and/or redundant requirements and compliance reports about issues they have no clue. Well, good luck on that one.

They are further encouraged by the possibility of obtaining some bail-out funds for critical projects. However, as one noted, the structure of the bail-out rewards the inept. If you’ve managed your business right, you probably don’t qualify. (Hmmmm, where have we seen that before?) For example, one of the requirements to qualify for Federal funds is to have ‘shovel-ready’ projects – yet few associations or water departments can afford to plan and implement a project to a shovel-ready state without having had the funding mechanism for the project in place from the out-set. It’s one of those catch 22’s – you can’t develop a project unless you have money but you can’t have money until your project’s developed. Duhhhh.

Secretary Chrisman noted that we have recently had two prominent California water experts placed in high Federal office, which bodes well for some of our projects. The new Director of the Department of Water Resources has mandated that human costs be factored into consideration along with the customary environmental impact and structural costs. They’re also evaluating California Water Law, which currently ranks as the most complex water law in the country. Our combination of old British Water Law, adopted in the 1850’s, usufructuary, riparian and appropriative water rights creates quite a challenging environment to work in. He also noted that the Endangered Species Act has been used at times as a very blunt instrument to craft laws and they are petitioning for reconsideration of the Delta Smelt and other ‘endangered’ species.

As with so many issues facing California today, we are at a crossroads in our water supply. As Mark Twain opined, “Whiskey is for drinkin’, water is for fightin’ over.” It looks like we’re coming into the fightin’ season for California water right now and, as with all our endeavors, we as Realtors had better be at the table with them – or we’ll sure as hell be on the menu.

News From RivCo Assessor/Recorder/Clerks Office

Riverside County Recorder/Assessor & Clerk, Larry Ward, has just announced that the per page fee collected on real estate transaction to fund the Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Task Force will increase from $2 to $3.

The main page for the Recorder/Assessor/Clerk office has also been updated to include more information on Fraud and an extended help section on Prop 8. Remember, the Assessors office will be re-assessing EVERY home sold in Riverside County since 2001 this year – some 550,000 homes. Owners will be notified of their new value by July and they have until September 1 to file an appeal of the re-valuation. Information here:


Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund
Government Code 27388

Effective February 25, 2009, the Real Estate Fraud Prosecution Trust Fund Fee will change from $2.00 to $3.00. The fee will be collected on the following titles (3 additional titles are added):

  • Assignment of Deed of Trust
  • Assignment of Mortgage
  • Assignment of Mortgage/Deed of Trust
  • Deed of Trust
  • Extension of Deed of Trust
  • Modification of a Deed of Trust
  • Notice of Default
  • Notice of Rescission of Declaration of Default (new title)
  • Notice of Trustee Sale (new title)
  • Reconveyance
  • Release of Deed of Trust
  • Release of Obligation of Deed of Trust
  • Request for Notice
  • Subordinated Deed of Trust
  • Substitution of Trustee (new title)
  • Any of the above titles being re-recorded

Riverside County HELP – for homeowners seminars on tap.

Here is some information for you and your clients about another Homeownership Preservation program. Homeownership Education Learning Program, or HELP, is a Riverside County supported initiative designed to keep homeowners in their homes – or give them info on how to buy a home. They are holding one of these events in the Temecula Public Library on 3/21. While the program is presented in conjunction with the County, it is open to anybody who needs more info on surviving a mortgage or getting a new one.

For more information on HELP, please click on their site:

help seminars

At this time SRCAR does not endorse or recommend any of these programs.
The programs are supported by public/private partnerships and each provides sources of information to homeowners

Tell your bank – Produce The Note!

Tell the Banks – produce The Note!

Don’t Leave Your Home – Squat.

That’s the advice of Representative Marcy Kaptur, 14 term Democratic Representative from Ohio and the House’s longest serving woman legislator.

Of course the ‘Produce The Note’ theory isn’t exactly new and it’s not exactly successful, but it’s a novel idea and good for a little free press. You can read a full article here: Kaptur – Don’t Leave Your Home.

You should know that Kaptur serves a slice of Ohio that graces the shore of Lake Erie from just west of Cleveland over to Toledo. Even in the good old days this area was referred to as ‘The Rust Belt’. Two of America’s Fastest Dying Cities, ( are in an adjacent district and another three are just up the road in Michigan. Unemployment bumping 25% and higher in some locales has produced an epidemic of foreclosures. She has been critical of the Presidents programs stating they do not adequately address the foreclosure issue in her district.

Of course we already know the Presidents programs don’t adequately address the foreclosure issue in California either. With qualifications including Fannie & Freddie owned loans (not many in CA), and the loan to value range of 80% to 105% (try 150%), fewer than 2% of Californians may benefit. . Two very different circumstances – same result – no help.

Anyway, the theory goes, Because of the way sub-prime loans were made, parceled, bundled into securities and sold and resold, the foreclosing bank may not actually have your original note. The contract between you and the bank. It exploits a legal technicality that says your note must be available for the final settlement to occur.

In a recent speech before Congress Kaptur suggested:

“Don’t leave your home. Because you know what? When those companies say they have your mortgage, unless you have a lawyer that can put his or her finger on that mortgage, you don’t have that mortgage, and you are going to find they can’t find the paper up there on Wall Street.”  Possession is nine-tenths of the law, therefore, stay in your property. Get proper legal representation … [if] Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail … you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It’s more than a piece of property. … Most people don’t even think about getting representation, because they get a piece of paper from the bank, and they go, ‘Oh, it’s the bank,’ and they become fearful, rather than saying: ‘This is contract law. The mortgage is a contract. I am one party. There is another party. What are my legal rights under the law as a property owner?”

“If you look at the bad paper, if you look at where there’s trouble, 95 to 98 percent of the paper really has moved to five institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia, Citigroup and HSBC. They have this country held by the neck.”

Kaptur recommends calling the local Legal Aid Society, Bar Association or 888-995-4673 for legal assistance.

Is it working? There have been some intermittent successes but more often than not the only result is to prolong the inevitable. According to the American Securitization Forum, a group that represents banks, law firms and investors, the original note is almost always electronically stored and will eventually be retrieved. Judges are increasingly willing to accept electronic documents these days but it creates a delay, which, according to a spokesman for the Group, is what it’s all about. Homeowners are making lenders jump through procedural hoops at a time when lenders have fewer resources to deal with more paperwork. Assembling the paperwork and providing documents to a judges satisfaction takes time but does little to change the eventual outcome – foreclosure. But if homeowners can buy a little time sometimes that’s victory enough.

Why am I posting this now? Because we are seeing seminars on this, or similar, procedures cropping up in the marketplace. I recently posted on the high-profile squatter scam in Sacramento – it’s definitly another wave of potential fraud against the unwary.

I’m not here to validate the legitimacy of either the program or the practitioners – but if you are approached by someone touting this type of program, even if she’s a Congress(wo)man, always follow Kaptur’s advice and check with the Riverside County legal aid society, the California Bar Association or call 888-995-4673 for assistance. Even Congress(wo)men have been known to get it wrong from time to time.

Oh, and if you’re contemplating advising people to squat – you might want to read this ActiveRain feature article first: Fixin to Get Cooked In The Squat.