Fellow protesters waiting their turn to be arrested applaud as...

Fellow protesters waiting their turn to be arrested applaud as Tommy Beard, who lost his home, is marched away, part of a protest by people who had lost their homes to foreclosure, or have been battling banks over loan modification, and their supporters, outside a Chase bank branch in downtown Los Angeles. (December 16, 2010) Credit: AP

The Village of Freeport, the Hempstead Village Housing Authority and Long Island Jobs with Justice closed their Chase accounts Thursday, joining with Hempstead Village, which earlier closed its accounts to protest the bank's mortgage-modification practices.

"They have got to come clean," said Freeport village Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who said the village has about 200 foreclosed homes. "They have got to do the right thing."

Activist groups and village officials say Chase is failing to modify mortgages for African-American and Hispanic residents, letting them go to foreclosure instead.

Hardwick, Freeport Trustee Carmen J. Piñeyro and other officials, along with members of the New York Communities for Change rallied outside of Freeport Village Hall to make the announcement Thursday.

Freeport closed its Chase bank account, even after meeting Thursday morning with bank representatives, Hardwick said. He would not say how much the village pulled out, but said Freeport handles "millions." Freeport recently borrowed more than $5 million from Chase, a bank spokesman said. That loan account remains open. And the village is looking at banking with five other institutions.

The Hempstead Village Housing Authority closed its nearly $70,000 account. Charlene Obernauer, executive director of Long Island Jobs with Justice, would not say how much it withdrew.

The action is part of a campaign by New York Communities for Change to get municipalities to close their accounts with Chase, based in Manhattan.

Chase spokesman Michael Fusco said the bank has had a 40-year banking relationship with Freeport and employs more than 80 local residents. Chase serves more than half of the community's households and 1,500 small-business customers through two Freeport branches.

"We are doing everything we can to help borrowers avoid foreclosure -- in New York and around the country," Fusco said in a statement.

In April, Hempstead Village withdrew $12.5 million from Chase over the mortgage modification issue for minority residents, said Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr.

A January report by New York Communities said Chase had given affordable mortgage modifications to 6 percent of New York borrowers. The group wants Chase to stop foreclosures, revise its mortgage-modification process and pay homeowners who lost their properties because they were denied modifications.

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