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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Millions spend half of income on housing

    [...]

    Ray is one of more than 7.5 million people — almost 15 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage — who are spending half of their income or more on housing costs, according to 2007 data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That is up from nearly 7.1 million the year before.

    Traditionally, the government and most lenders consider a homeowner spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs to be financially burdened. But that definition now covers almost 38 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage — 19 million of them.

    Though home prices have fallen this year, in the most expensive markets where home prices tripled during the boom, many working families still cannot afford to buy a home.


    [...]

    The data underscore the serious affordability problems in this country and highlight how the slightest financial problem — from a lost job to higher gas prices or insurance premiums — can put a family behind on their mortgages and into the realm of foreclosure.

    When home prices fell in the early 1990s, borrowers had more equity in their homes, and were able to escape foreclosure. But now, an estimated 10 million homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to Moody's economy.com.

    More than 4 million homeowners were at least one month behind on their loans at the end of June, and almost 500,000 had started the foreclosure process, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    Cascading foreclosures over the past two years created a domino effect in the lending industry, undermining investor confidence and forcing the Bush administration last weekend to announce the greatest rescue package and market intervention since the Great Depression.

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