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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Calls for end to US repossessions
US houses
The slowing housing market is a problem for lenders
A coalition of civil rights groups in the US has called on sub-prime lenders to stop repossessing borrowers' homes.

They want a six-month moratorium on foreclosures and say the industry should move borrowers onto loans with more favourable terms.

Sub-prime lenders provide loans such as mortgages to people with poor credit records, but they tend to charge higher rates of interest.

US sub-prime lender New Century filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

'Reckless and unaffordable'

The civil rights groups say that a predicted wave of foreclosures stems from "reckless and unaffordable loans", for which the lenders must bear some responsibility.

Without intervention, sub-prime foreclosures will impose the greatest drain on African-American and Latino wealth ever experienced in this country
Hilary Shelton, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

The National Council of La Raza, which campaigns on behalf of Hispanic Americans, says the problem is that most sub-prime loans start with favourable fixed interest rates that later change into adjustable-rate mortgages.

The group says that higher risk borrowers should be moved into sustainable 30-year fixed rates.

Adjustable rates have caused particular problems following two years of interest rate rises from the Federal Reserve between 2004 and 2006.

The slowing housing market has also reduced the amount of new business for sub-prime lenders.

Minority communities

The groups say that failing sub-prime lenders are a particular problem in minority communities, with more than half of African-American borrowers and 40% of Latinos getting higher-cost mortgages.

"Without intervention, sub-prime foreclosures will impose the greatest drain on African-American and Latino wealth ever experienced in this country," according to Hilary Shelton from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The Mortgage Bankers Association says its members are already setting up payment plans and considering moving borrowers to different products to help avoid foreclosures.

The coalition of civil rights groups includes Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Centre for Responsible Lending NAACP, National Council of La Raza and the National Fair Housing Alliance.


SEE ALSO
Top US lender in Chapter 11 move
02 Apr 07 |  Business
Q&A: Sub-prime lending
14 Mar 07 |  Business
New Century shares are suspended
12 Mar 07 |  Business
Bleak housing outlook for US firm
08 Mar 07 |  Business

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