Brighter Futures Begin with HOPE.

HOPE Submits Comments to Ensure Struggling Homeowners Can Access Foreclosure Relief

May 12th, 2021

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Deep South communities served by HOPE, especially people of color, are now teetering even more precariously on the brink of economic and social devastation than before the pandemic. In order to be effective in protecting those who face the greatest risk of losing their homes, federal protections must address the challenges faced by borrowers of color and low-income borrowers. As we saw during the aftermath of the previous foreclosure crisis,  policy decisions made today will have far-reaching implications for not only the current housing  market, but also for racial wealth and opportunity for many generations to come.

Mortgage lending is a key component of HOPE’s strategy to close the racial wealth gap in the Deep South. Over the last ten years, HOPE’s mortgage portfolio nearly quadrupled from nearly $34 million in 2010 to $127 million at the end of 2020. In 2020, 86% of HOPE’s mortgages were made to people of color, primarily Black borrowers, and 83% were made to first time homebuyers. Importantly, HOPE accomplishes this impact through responsible mortgage lending, as reflected by a charge off rate of fifteen basis points in 2020.  COVID-10 has taken a toll on low-income homeowners in the Deep South.  As of December 2020, Mississippi and Louisiana had the two highest rates in the country of past due mortgage loans.

As the nation seeks to recover from COVID-19, Deep South communities, especially communities of color, are now even more precariously situated on the brink of economic and social devastation. This is particularly true as CARES Act and other COVID-relief protections against foreclosures are set to expire in the coming months, even as many families are still burdened by COVID’s economic devastation.  Policy decisions made today have the opportunity to break, rather than repeat and worsen this cycle of inequity.

Key among these decisions will be the protections afforded to people struggling to hold on to their homes, particularly borrowers of color and low-income borrowers who are among the hardest hit by COVID-19’s health and economic impacts. These are the same borrowers who have also been most likely bypassed for other types of relief that might help them stay afloat. HOPE’s comment highlights the following points:

  1. Deep South people and places most economically vulnerable prior to the pandemic, were most heavily impacted by it, and most likely to be passed over by relief measures,
  2. Preventing unnecessary foreclosures is critical to preserving Black homeownership, and prevent widening of the racial wealth gap, and
  3. Proposed amendments to Regulation X are a helpful start and need clarity

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