CEO, Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America
"Once one of these predatory lenders is defeated, others will appear like roaches until the market and profit for these loans is substantially reduced." -- Testimony before House Committee on Financial Services, Sept. 12, 2000
Borrowers who took out subprime loans during the housing boom have often been vilified for foolishly borrowing what they couldn't afford. Not so fast, says the pugnacious Marks, who alleges that lenders are guilty of "greed of historic proportions."
An activist with a MBA degree and limitless street smarts, he is setting out to prove that working-class Americans who are given access to traditional mortgages can make their payments like everybody else.
In 2008, the NCAA - the nation's only nonprofit mortgage broker - helped Americans restructure roughly 20,000 garbage mortgages. This summer it helped thousands of distressed homeowners restructure their loans during a frenetic five-day event in Washington, DC. Most of the loans were modified to fixed interest rates of 5% or less.
With 40 offices scattered across the country, Marks hopes to open 20 more branches in 2009. More importantly, he hopes to change the way mortgages are written. "[Mortgage] executives are nervous, and they should be nervous," Marks says, "because people are angry, and we aren't going to be silent." --L.O.
NEXT: Hero: Alan Collinge