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Washington, D.C. – Everyone knows the stories of the millions of Americans who have lost their homes and wealth to the foreclosure crisis, UNC Center for Community Capital Director Roberto G. Quercia told a national audience today (Sept. 20).

“The story you have not heard is of the tens of thousands of working families who have been quietly and successfully repaying their mortgages over the same period of time,” Quercia said. “That is the story we at the UNC Center for Community Capital are working to tell.”

Quercia’s remarks came during a policy panel discussion, “Risk, Access and the Future of Homeownership,” co-hosted by the center with Center for American Progress and Brookings Institution Press.

He was joined by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, member of the Senate Banking Committee; moderator Patricia McCoy, assistant director for mortgage and home equity markets for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and panelists Judith S. Jacobson, deputy director and general counsel, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and Vijay K. Lala, senior vice president, home loans product administration for Bank of America.

The discussion officially launched the center new book, Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Homeownership for America’s Working Families, co-authored by Quercia, center executive director Janneke Ratcliffe and senior research associate Allison Freeman. The book tells what really caused the housing finance crisis and recommends strategies for rebuilding a sustainable U.S. housing finance system.

Regaining the Dream chronicles the experience 46,000 low-and-moderate income borrowers who received mortgages through the Community Advantage Program, a demonstrated project conceived by a North Carolina-based community development financial institution, Self-Help. The CAP demonstration was made possible through a $50 million grant from the Ford Foundation, which provided risk capital for the program as well as money for the center’s long-term study.

Center researchers found that 95 percent of these borrowers repaid their loans during the foreclosure crisis. The borrowers had very low incomes – an average $30,000 a year – and did not qualify home loans from traditional lenders.

“If I have to summarize in one sentence the main lesson from our work it is that sustainable low-to-moderate-income lending works when it is done right,” Quercia said. “Our economy will not recover until the housing market recovers. For that reason, it is critical that we rebuild a housing finance system that promotes quality mortgage lending in the broadest possible way. We believe that our work can inform that process.”

Mortgage finance is a key area of study for the UNC Center for Community Capital, the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of capital on households and communities in the United States. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the center offers data and analysis that helps policymakers, advocates and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people more effectively. For more information, visit or call (919) 843-2140.

Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Default, Bankruptcy, & Foreclosure, Housing Policy, Impacts of Homeownership, Mortgage Finance
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