Wow. You’ve got to read this story out of San Francisco. The real estate columnist on, Carol Lloyd, tells this story today of Alberto and Rosa Ramirez, strawberry pickers who make about $300 each weekly in the Bay Area. They combined forces with another couple, mushroom farmers, and actually bought a house for $720,000, “qualifying” under one man’s $15,000 salary. Now, after their payments soared north of $5,000 monthly, they’ve had to stop paying their mortgage and have enlisted the help of an attorney who specializes in predatory lending cases:

Indeed, in a different era (when housing prices were lower), their story might have been one of those bootstrap tales about homeownership transforming immigrant lives. … How did a strawberry picker earning $15,000 a year qualify for a loan of $720,000? The answer, say the experts, lies in a lending industry that got too innovative for its own good.

That piece coincides with my story today on the effect of foreclosure on minorities in San Diego.

In that story, I spoke to a couple of people who’ve been researching and speaking a lot about this recently. They’re with the Center for Responsible Lending.

Here’s one study from March 27 titled “Subprime Lending Is a Drain on Homeownership.”

And from May 31, 2006: “Unfair Lending: The Effect of Race and Ethnicity on the Price of Subprime Mortgages.”

I also talked to Gabe del Rio, the homeownership director at Community HousingWorks, a local nonprofit housing concern, and said they’re hearing from people all the time who are stuck in their mortgages.


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