How Will Secretary Carson Engage Latino Homebuyers?

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Many questions remain for Dr. Ben Carson, who last month was officially sworn in as our newest Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Since his January 12 confirmation hearing, many are still wondering how Dr. Carson will fulfill HUD’s mission and carry out the critical task of providing affordable rental and homeownership opportunities—free from discrimination—for all Americans.

On March 28, Secretary Carson had an opportunity to discuss his housing policy priorities at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals Conference. It was an important audience for Secretary Carson—the Association represents the largest group of Hispanic real estate professionals, whose primary mission is getting Latinos into homes. This is a critical constituency, because Latinos are expected to form more than 40 percent of new households in the next decade. By 2020, Latinos are expected to account for half of new homeowners. Yet today, only 46 percent of over 14 million Hispanic households own their home, well below the rate in 2006, before the housing crisis, when nearly half of over 12 million Hispanic households owned homes.

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Celebrating Financial Capability Efforts to Support Latino Financial Well-being

By Agatha So, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Financial Capability Counseling gives Latino families the information and tools needed to improve credit, increase savings, and build wealth. Through participation in a financial capability program, Latino families can access a range of resources and learn how to use skill-building tools and financial products that will help them achieve their financial goals, such as homeownership.

For Affiliate partners of the NCLR Homeownership Network (NHN), building families’ financial capability has never been more important. Because of the financial crisis nearly a decade ago, millions of Latino families saw their savings disappear when they lost their homes to foreclosure. At the same time, a rise in unemployment among Latino workers made it harder for families to the get the assistance they needed to save their homes. Today, a generation of Latino families are still recovering and trying to repair the damage to their credit when they lost their homes. Rebuilding by understanding how to budget, save, and improve credit is critical to economic recovery and the ability for Latinos to become homeowners.

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Life After HAMP: What Kind of Mortgage Relief Can Struggling Homeowners Expect in 2017?

Last week the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the release of the Flex Modification, a foreclosure prevention program that follows on the heels of the expiring Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAMP, introduced in 2009, was designed to help homeowners who fell behind on their mortgage payments to get relief and avoid foreclosure. Leading up to the recession, many homeowners, particularly in communities of color, were targeted by predatory lenders who offered unsustainable mortgage products. HAMP allowed homeowners to get relief by providing them with a permanent adjustment to their monthly payment that would make their mortgage more affordable. Homeowners could access this adjustment by seeking guidance from a HUD-certified housing counseling agency, and completing an application to their mortgage servicer.

With HAMP set to expire on December 31, 2016, stakeholders in the housing industry have rolled out proposals for the post-HAMP loan modification program. The Mortgage Bankers Association has led the industry’s efforts and developed the One Mod proposal. This universal or one-size-fits-all loan modification approach aims to replace HAMP, which was based on an individualized assessment of a homeowner’s financial situation.

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