In a recent Washington Post Article “In D.C. loan program, mortgage defaults abound”, the District’s homegrown down payment loan program, HPAP, was painted a massive failure that purposely sets low-income residents up for failure. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The article takes the facts about high delinquency rates out of the context, comparing the rates for small down payment loans (historically and expectedly high compared to first trust delinquency rates), as its evidence that the program is a ‘wasteland’ and the District is putting families in ‘loans buyers can’t afford’. However the true measure of the program, a1.8% foreclosure rate, gets dismissed.
Ms. Cenziper isolates a few instances where purchasers paid too much for their homes and are facing problems staying current on their mortgages. Ms. Cenziper contacted Manna in her research and the following was shared to her, none of which appears in her article. A typical HPAP recipient goes through an intake session, a home purchase counseling program, two levels of underwriting for credit and income worthiness, and the professionalism of the program management. The end result is a buyer educated on the risks and responsibilities of being a homeowner.
Manna has been producing affordable homeownership housing for almost 30 years now and we know what a ‘Wasteland’ looks like. The down payment loan program provides a responsible, successful approach for lending money that is repaid and recycled.
Sensationalizing the facts to fit the headline contributes to the misinformation about affordable homeownership housing. With a less than 2% foreclosure rate, it’s hard to make sense of the article. The program has successfully contributed to assisting thousands of low and moderate income people become homeowners in the District. This should be celebrated instead of scapegoated.