Home-Ownership Group to Aid Subprime Victims
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
There is new hope for some of the subprime borrowers who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. A housing advocacy group is setting up a billion-dollar rescue loan fund for lower income homeowners.
NPR's Chris Arnold has that story.
CHRIS ARNOLD: At an office in Boston, Carmen Moldonado(ph) is meeting with a counselor from the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. She's hoping to get some help. Come July, her subprime mortgage payment will adjust up by about $800 a month - something, she says, her mortgage broker never told her about.
CARMEN MOLDONADO: I felt like I was lied to, because nothing was really explained to me.
ARNOLD: Moldonado works at a local social security office. She's a single mom with her 17 and 22-year-old daughters living with her. But she says in July, she won't be able to pay her mortgage.
MOLDONADO: My oldest daughter, she's worried. She thinks about it. And she's like ma, you know, it's coming up. And I said, yeah, I know.
ARNOLD: Moldonado is clearly scared and upset, and she doesn't know what to tell her daughter.
MOLDONADO: I said I know there's a God up there. And I'm hoping that I could really save my house. I feel cheated, and I'm just hoping that I can really keep my property and be at my home for a very long time.
ARNOLD: This homeownership group is now pledging a lot of money to help people like Moldonado. Its main mission is to arrange loans for first time homebuyers. But the group's chief executive, Bruce Marks, says too many people are now losing their homes, so he's shifting 10 percent of his loan resources that he'd lined up to Bank of America and Citigroup to now use for home rescues.
BRUCE MARKS: There will be a billion dollars that is set aside to refinance working people out of their predatory loans on the best terms available - 30-year fixed rate. Today's rate is 5.5 percent.
ARNOLD: That's a one percent below market rate that the group can get for low- income borrowers. So for Carmen Moldonado, instead of seeing her current payment rise, it would actually drop by hundreds of dollars a month. All this will likely involve some wrangling with lenders.
MARKS: When we do a payoff on those loans, we're not going to allow the payoff to include the predatory fees, the prepayment fees, the junk fees that are thousands of dollars that these predatory lenders add in.
ARNOLD: If companies who now hold the loans won't waive such fees, Marks promises protests at their offices and at executives' homes. The billion dollars will no doubt be a huge help to some 7,000 homeowners. But the problem is a lot bigger than that. Many experts say there are around 2 million people in danger of losing their homes, so a lot more resources will be needed to prevent that from happening.
Chris Arnold, NPR News, Boston.
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