A Ray of Light in the Foreclosure Crisis

By Janis Bowdler 12-10-2009

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In the midst of slow-moving recovery plans, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is one of the only rays of light that American families have seen. Latino communities continue to struggle with unemployment and foreclosure. In 2009 alone, more than 700,000 Hispanic and Black borrowers are expected to lose their homes to foreclosure. The FHA could be a strong, vital force in stabilizing the housing market, particularly for low-income borrowers.

Though not without its share of past challenges, FHA has long been a standard-bearer of safe home lending for low- and modest-income Americans, first-time home-buyers, and communities of color. With a powerful set of foreclosure prevention tools, many FHA borrowers are able to preserve their homes from foreclosure.

What's more, many Latinos are relying on FHA to assist in facilitating their first mortgage. Millions of Latinos who should be able to take advantage of lower home prices are unable to access credit. Families -- including 45% of Latino home-buyers in 2008 -- are relying on their FHA mortgage to take advantage of the newly affordable home prices.

If families who are otherwise qualified and prepared for homeownership are unable to access credit, deep-pocketed investors and speculators will swoop in, buying properties for cents on the dollar. Not only does this keep property values low, it turns stable neighborhoods over to the hands of absentee landlords.

To expedite economic recovery, we need to ratchet up the positive influence of the FHA. This will be good for both borrowers and taxpayers. Here are some of the things that we at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) would like to see happen:

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