Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Immigrants join Americans in losing homes to the bank

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira:

When Honduran housekeeper Ivone Aguilar lost her Nashua home early last year, she did not expect foreclosures to become a national trend, especially one that would hit the Latino community so hard. At the time, Aguilar's schedule at a local hotel was cut back so drastically that she could no longer afford to pay her adjustable monthly rate on her mortgage, so she had no other choice but to give up her home.

In Hillsborough County there are 186 homes in foreclosure – 42 in Nashua alone – according to Foreclosure properties.com.According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 1 in 10 Latinos missed payment last year, and one-third are concerned that, like Aguilar, they may lose their homes.

The Center for Responsible Lending, a national research group, predicts that for the next couple of years Latino homeowners will incur housing losses totaling $98 billion. But immigrant advocates such as the National Council of La Raza point out that minorities aren't to blame for the housing crisis."It's hard to see how we could have realistically expected first-time home buyers to somehow be better predictors of economic risks and system failures," said Janis Bowdler, associate director of Wealth-Building Policy Project of NCLR, during a national conference call last month.Since then, the Obama administration presented its foreclosure properties prevention program, a $75 billion project that will try to identify homeowners who have at-risk loans and offer incentives to banks and lenders to modify their mortgages.

Although the federal offer came in too late to rescue Aguilar, she praised the effort."I have friends and co-workers who might be able to benefit. At least the government is trying to extend a helping hand," she said.To qualify, a monthly mortgage payment should not be more than 38 percent of the borrowers' monthly gross income – which was the case at the beginning of the contract for most immigrant homebuyers up until subprime rates exploded. Read Full Article Here

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