Homeowners Turn Equity Loans Into ATMs

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Finding a solution to the ongoing crisis in the mortgage industry could be complicated by Americans' changing attitudes to home ownership. More people own homes now than ever before, but most own less of them than ever — the result of taking equity out of the home in the form of loans.

As author Shira Boss tells NPR's Steve Inskeep, the use of an equity line of credit as a piggy-bank for buying things like cars and vacations means that the subprime mortgage crisis shouldn't be dismissed as "a problem of low income people." They may just be the first to fall in a widening crisis, Boss says.

Boss is the author of Green with Envy: A Whole New Way to Look at Financial (Un)Happiness.

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