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Real estate group threatens legal action against Councilwoman Ramos after she warns of 'questionable practices'

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CBS News Baltimore Live

BALTIMORE -- The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a Boston-based nonprofit led by CEO Bruce Marks, is threatening legal action against Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos after she issued a "buyer beware" notice about the organization.

In a press release on Wednesday, Ramos warned Baltimoreans about the group's "questionable practices," alleging the group makes potential homebuyers looking for assistance pay a membership fee and volunteer with the organization, known as NACA.

She said she has found reports of "shady loan deals and bad customer service."

Over a decade ago, a CBS Miami investigation found angry NACA customers across the country stuck in "an endless cycle of paperwork."

The group responded Thursday, sending a "cease and desist" that says her claims are "unfounded."

"This is entirely fueled by her personal political agenda, regardless of the damage it causes by attempting to deny her constituents and everyone in the Baltimore region the opportunity to become homeowners with unbeatable terms," Marks said in a statement.

Ramos and the group have clashed before.

In April, Marks led a rally at City Hall in support of Council President Nick Mosby's proposed revival of the Dollar House program. Dozens of supporters poured out of overflow rooms and into hallways.  

During his testimony to the council, Marks accused Mayor Brandon Scott and Ramos of working for real estate developers.

"Sir, you cannot accuse me of that," Ramos called to Marks over the banging of Mosby's gavel. "You're not from here, sir, you don't even know, you don't even know."

Marks then led the rally straight to Scott's office while the council was in session and banged on the metal door, telling the crowd the mayor had refused to meet with his organization to talk about the program.

It was later learned those supporters were fulfilling a volunteer requirement for the mortgage program.

NACA is scheduled to hold an event called "Achieve the Dream" at the Baltimore Convention Center from Sept. 7-12, according to the convention center's site.

Ramos directed Baltimoreans to a list of HUD certified housing counseling agencies.

"The agencies listed below are respected in our communities, and will help repair credit, find homebuyer benefits so it is easier to purchase in this market, and ensure that your mortgage is legitimate and works for you," she said.

Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc. 410-485-8422
Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc 410-500-5300
Druid Heights Community Development Corp. 410-523-1350
Garwyn Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center, Inc 410-947-0084
Harbel Housing Partnership 410-444-9152
Neighborhood Housing Services Of Baltimore, Inc. 410-327-1200 x 149
Operation Hope-Baltimore Branch 443-885-0845
Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, Inc. 410-225-7547
Southeast Community Development Corporation 410-342-3234
St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Inc. 410-366-8550 

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