African American and Latino seniors are each nearly twice as likely as their white peers to be facing down foreclosure, according to an AARP poll released today. The racial disparity mirror that seen in other age groups.
AARP’s poll found that 1.5 million seniors have lost their homes. Another 3.5 million people over the age of 50—or 16 percent of homeowners in that age group—are underwater on their mortgages. The problem is most critical among homeowners who are older than 75; one in 30 in that age group are facing foreclosure, according to the poll.
Previous research on the foreclosure crisis has found that African American women and seniors were particularly at-risk, because homeownership rates were highest among these groups in the black community. Contrary to an oft-repeated idea in news media, subprime lending to African American and Latino borrowers focused on refinance loans. Borrowers who had owned their homes for years—in some cases, generations—were cycled through expensive refinance loans that spiraled up debt and led to foreclosure.