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Eviction threat has NH single mom in fear and ‘cliff is coming’

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Kyle Stucker
 
| Portsmouth Herald

Jessica Marino says her story is one of desperation.

For much of the past couple of years, Marino says desperation has guided her decisions as she has clawed through trauma and unsafe situations in pursuit of stability for her 9-year-old son, Sam.

“A lot of times, the decisions we make when we make them out of desperation are not going to be good choices because you’re sort of just grasping at something,” she said. “You’re trying to paddle upstream with nothing.”

Marino fears nothing but more desperation lies beyond both options at her latest crossroads.

That crossroads gave her the option to escape a $900-a-month Rochester apartment she says was unsafe, but do so by moving into a $1,614 Dover apartment her paycheck and savings won’t be able to sustain unless her circumstances cha

Or, she could’ve fought substandard conditions in that Rochester apartment, potentially losing the only housing she’s found at her price point because the landlord has already threatened her with eviction — which she alleges he did out of retaliation.

The Manchester native, former Northwood firefighter and single mother ultimately chose to leave last week, moving into the Princeton Dover Apartments off Princeton Way.

“I can’t afford to have an eviction,” Marino said bluntly with a furrowed brow. “I literally was trying to figure out, ‘OK, how do we (fight) this?’ and I’m like, ‘I just have to get out.’ We’ve got to get out before he takes us to court.”

For Marino and other renters in the Granite State, that five-letter word — court — is fear inducing.

Surge of evictions

Experts in the state and nationwide have been warning for months that a tidal wave is rolling in as a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on nonpayment evictions nears its Dec. 31 end.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey has indicated more than 30% of renter respondents have little or no confidence in their ability to make next month’s rent payment. A recent analysis by a Columbia University economist also estimates a 40% to 45% increase in homelessness by the end of 2020 – approximately 250,000 Americans.

Local warnings are now intensifying because other types of evictions, like for renovations and building sales, have been steadily increasing New Hampshire eviction court filings back to pre-COVID-19 levels ever since the state’s moratorium expired in July.

“People are going to be in a really tough spot come Jan. 1 when a lot of landlords, I think, are itching to move forward with evictions that have been put on hold,” said Marta Hurgin, a Portsmouth resident who is handling COVID-19 housing and unemployment cases as a staff attorney at the New Hampshire Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC). “We’re worried another cliff is coming for tenants without further assistance from the state or federal government.”

The total number of landlord-tenant writs — the first legal step in the eviction process — filed in the state’s district courts doubled from 41 in the week before New Hampshire’s ban ended in July, to 85 the week after it ended, according to data posted on the court system’s website.

Writs spiked to 193 by the week of Aug. 10 and have held steady between 60 and 130 new filings every single week since, save for the holiday-shortened week of Thanksgiving.

In that time, Dover and Rochester’s district courts have had the third and fourth most writ filings in the state during the pandemic, behind Manchester and Nashua.

“We think they are going to increase drastically by the end of the year,” said Hurgin.

This is problematic, Hurgin and local housing advocates say, because of the impact evictions have on renters’ ability to find affordable housing in a state that has next to none available.

Seacoast’s tough housing market

Rental vacancy rates are around 1%. The average rent for a two-bedroom unit has skyrocketed to $1,623 in Rockingham County (a 28% increase in the past five years) and $1,291 in Strafford County (a 26% increase in the same timeframe), according to a recent housing market report by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.

Flood that untenable market with hundreds or ethousands of newly evicted tenants and Hurgin says it’s going to deeply worsen the fact landlords already shuffle people with black marks on their rental records — like evictions, low income and bad credit — to the bottom of their stacks of apartment applications. Those stacks can be anywhere from 50 to 300 applications tall for a single Seacoast apartment, local landlords have recently said.

“We have tenants who have been looking for months. They know an eviction is coming … and they’re desperately trying to find a place to go, and there’s nowhere,” said Hurgin, who, as one of five attorneys at NH LARC, has helped 8 to 10 clients a week counter evictions using the CDC moratorium. “The rents are increasing, the availability is decreasing, and we’re coming into the coldest part of the year. There’s definitely a lot of concern for people out there.”

Marino agreed, stating it’s why she wants to get a job involving housing advocacy. She believes a lack of understanding and compassion around why people are housing insecure will greatly hurt Seacoast residents when nonpayment evictions resume.

“We all get thrown into the same pot: You’re being evicted because there’s something wrong with you,” said Marino. “People just assume you’re being evicted because you’re scum. People just put everybody into the same peg.”

Housing funding and resources

One of the strategies New Hampshire and its governor, Chris Sununu, rolled out this year to help renters behind on rent was a housing relief program that provides one-time grants – up to $2,500 – for past-due rent and utilities.

The grants cover households that lost income or saw increased household expenses as a result of COVID-19. They can also be used for additional one-time housing expenses that could place an individual or family in jeopardy if left unpaid.

Sununu allocated $35 million in federal CARES Act funding to create the relief program, putting the state’s five community action programs, including those in Rockingham and Strafford counties, in charge of disbursement.

Betsey Andrews Parker, executive director of Community Action Partnership of Strafford County, has said she’s seen an increase in the number of landlords working with her organization to help keep tenants housed thanks to the program.

However, state officials have said they expect millions of dollars will go unclaimed in the program when the application period ends Dec. 18.

“There will be money left on the table that could’ve gone to people,” said Hurgin.

In August, Sununu vetoed House Bill 1247, which would have offered tenants a six-month repayment plan for rent payments that were missed during the coronavirus pandemic, and clarified that tenants would not need an eviction notice in order to file for welfare assistance. In a veto message, Sununu wrote he believed the bill would’ve added “a major structural problem to an already precarious housing environment.”

Elsewhere, CARES Act funding has been allocated to provide larger grants to landlords whose tenants have been unable to make rent.

In the District of Columbia, CARES Act money is being used to provide grants that cover 80% of missed payments, up to $2,000 per tenant per month, if the landlord agrees to waive the remaining 20% of rent and any unpaid fees, according to a report by Street Sense Media, a news site that covers homelessness and housing issues in DC.

Ryan Weiss, vice president-elect of the New Hampshire Real Estate Investors Association, said New Hampshire implementing a relief program like DC’s would aid local landlords who could get financially “squeezed” even more if the federal moratorium is extended.

“That sounds maybe more fair,” said Weiss, who owns Blue Door Living, a Manchester property management company that oversees 15 buildings containing 61 total apartments. “The challenge is that some of the tenants who were on unemployment and receiving the additional $600 a week were still deciding to not pay their rent. So if there could be relief funds that landlords could access directly on behalf of tenants who are not paying, then I think that would be a really effective program.”

While Weiss said completely lifting the moratorium would help landlords, he said he understands why it was imposed. He also said he and other association members do “feel a lot of empathy for tenants who have been put in really tough spots” because they’ve lost income and jobs due to COVID-19.

“I hope if there’s any future relief that’s available, I hope there’s relief available for both tenants who are negatively impacted and landlords who are negatively impacted,” he said. “If you’re going to prevent us from removing tenants that aren’t paying, then at least give us access to some relief.”

Marino agreed, stating the lack of such programs is symptomatic of the limited funding New Hampshire allocates to proactive and preventive housing strategies.

The state’s strategies are expected to change through the recently retooled Council on Housing Stability, which is set to bring legislative suggestions and preliminary ideas for updating the state’s 2006 homelessness plan by Dec. 14.

“Everything right now with this whole COVID thing, it’s just compounded the problems tenfold for people who are struggling,” said Marino. “New Hampshire is pushing people out of here. It’s almost like the only people who are going to be sustainable in New Hampshire are those who do well and make like, what, $100,000?”

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If You Want Consumers to Lose, Network Regulation is a Must – Digital Transactions

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After the current U.S. Congress was sworn in, a predictable chorus of merchants, lobbyists, and lawmakers demanded new interchange price caps and other government mandates to decrease credit card interchange fees for merchants. The tired attacks on credit cards are an easy narrative that focuses almost exclusively on the cost side of the ledger, while completely ignoring the cards’ important role in the economy and the regressive effects of interchange regulation. 

To lawmakers blindly acting on behalf of retailers, regulation is a brilliant idea—regardless of how it affects their constituents. For decades, they have promised these interventions would eventually benefit consumers. But the lessons from the Durbin Amendment in the United States and price cap regulation in Australia is clear. Although some policymakers bemoan the current economic model, arbitrarily “cutting” rates for the sake of cuts completely ignores the economic reality that as billions of dollars move to merchants, billions are lost by consumers. 

For the uninitiated, let’s break down what credit interchange funds: 1) the cost of fraud; 2) more than $40 billion in consumers rewards; 3) the cost of nonpayment by consumers, which is typically 4% of revolving credit; 4) more than $300 billion in credit floats to U.S. consumers; and 5) drastically higher “ticket lift” for merchants. 

Johnson: “To lawmakers blindly acting on behalf of retailers, regulation is a brilliant idea—regardless of how it affects their constituents.”

These are just some of the benefits. If costs were all that mattered, American Express wouldn’t exist. Until recently, it was by far the most expensive U.S. network. Yet, merchants still took AmEx because they knew the average AmEx “swipe” was around $140, far more than Visa and Mastercard. 

Put simply, for a few basis points, interchange functions as a small insurance policy to safeguard retailers from the threat of fraud and nonpayment by consumers. Consider the amount of ink spilled on interchange when no one mentions that the chargeoff rate for issuing banks on bad credit card debt exceeds credit interchange.

Looking abroad, interchange opponents cite Australia, which halved interchange fees nearly 20 years ago, as a glowing example of how to regulate credit cards. In truth, Australia’s regulations have harmed consumers, reduced their options, and forced Australians to pay more for less appealing credit card products. 

First, the cost of a basic credit card is $60 USD in many Australian banks. How many millions of Americans would lose access to credit if the annual cost went from $0 to $60? Can you imagine the consumer outrage? 

In a two-sided market like credit cards, any regulated shift to one side acts a massive tax on the other. For Australians, the new tax fell on cardholders. There, annual fees for standard cards rose by nearly 25%, according to an analysis by global consulting firm CRA International. Fees for rewards cards skyrocketed by as much as 77%.

Many no-fee credit cards were no longer financially viable. As a result, they were pulled from the market, leaving lower income Australians, as well as young people working to establish credit, with few viable options in the credit card market.

Even the benefits that lead many people to sign up for credit cards in the first place have been substantially diluted in Australia because of the reduction of interchange fees. In fact, the value of rewards points fell by approximately 23% after the country cut interchange fees.

Efforts to add interchange price caps would have a similar effect here in the U.S. A 50% cut would amount to a $40 billion to $50 billion wealth transfer from consumers and issuers to merchants. For the 20 million or so financially marginalized Americans, what will their access to credit be when issuers find a $50 billion hole in their balance sheets? 

The average American generates $167 per year in rewards, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Perks like airline miles, hotel points, and cashback rewards would be decimated and would likely be just the province of the rich after regulation. Many middle-class consumers could say goodbye to family vacations booked at almost no cost thanks to credit card rewards.

As the travel industry and retailers fight to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic, slashing consumer rewards and reducing the attractiveness of already-fragile businesses is the last thing lawmakers and regulators in Washington should undertake.

Proposals to follow Australia’s misguided lead in capping interchange may allow retailers to snatch a few extra basis points, but the consequences would be disastrous for consumers. Cards would simply be less valuable and more expensive for Americans, and millions of consumers would lose access to credit. University of Pennsylvania Professor Natasha Sarin estimates debit price caps alone cost consumers $3 billion. How much more would consumers have to pay under Durbin 2.0?

Members of Congress and other leaders should learn from Australia and Durbin 1.0 to avoid making the same mistake twice.

—Drew Johnson is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C.

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Increase Your Credit Score With Michael Carrington

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More than ever before, your debt and credit records can negatively impact you or your family’s life if left unmanaged. Sadly, many Americans feel entirely helpless about their credit score’s present state and the steps they need to take to fix a less-than-perfect score. This is where Michael Carrington, founder of Tier 1 Credit Specialist, comes in. Michael is determined to offer thousands of Americans an educated, informed approach towards credit restoration.

Michael understands the plight that having a bad credit score can bring into your life. His first financial industry job was working as a home mortgage loan analyst for one of the nation’s largest lenders. Early on, he had to work a grueling schedule which included several jobs seven days a week while putting in almost 12-hour days to make $5,000 monthly to get by barely.

“I was tired of living a mediocre life and was determined to increase the value that I can offer others through my knowledge of the finance industry – I started reading all of the necessary books, networking with industry professionals, and investing in mentorship,” shares Michael Carrington. “I got my break when I was able to grow a seven-figure credit repair and funding organization that is flexible enough to address the financial needs of thousands of Americans.”

With his vast experience in the business world, establishing himself as a well-respected business leader, Michael Carrington felt he had the power to help millions of Americas in restoring their credit. Michael learned the FICO system, stayed up to date on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), found ways to improve his credit score, and started showing others.

The Tier 1 Credit Specialist uses a tested and proven approach to educate their clients on everything credit scores. Michael is leveraging his experience as a home mortgage professional, marketing executive, and global business coach to inform his clients. He and his team take their time to carefully go through their client’s credit records as they try to find the root of their problem and find suitable financial solutions.

The company is changing lives all over America as it helps families and individuals to repair their credit scores, gain access to lower interest rates on loans and get better jobs. What Tier 1 Credit Specialists is offering many Americans is a chance at financial freedom.

Michael Carrington has repaired over $8 million in debt write-ups and has helped fund American’s with over $4 million through thousands of fixed reports. “I credit our success to being people-focused,” he often says. “The amount of success that we create is going to be in direct proportion to the amount of value that we provide people – not just our customers – people.”

Because of its ‘people-focused goals, the Tier 1 Credit Specialist is determined to help millions of Americans achieve financial literacy. It is currently receiving raving reviews from clients who are completely happy with the credit repair solutions that the company has provided them.

Today, Michael Carrington is continuing with a new initiative to serve more Americans who suffer from bad credit due to little or no access to affordable resources for repair.

The Tier 1 Credit Socialist brand is changing the outlook of many families across America. To do this, the company has created an affiliate system that will provide more people with ways of earning during these tough economic times.

As a well-respected international business leader and entrepreneur with numerous achievements to his name Michael Carrington aims to help millions of Americans achieve the financial freedom, he is experiencing today. Tier 1 Credit Socialist is one of the most effective credit repair brands on the market right now, and they have no plans for slowing down in 2021!

Learn more about Michael Carrington by visiting his Instagram account or checking out the Tier 1 Credit Specialist website.

Published April 17th, 2021



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Does Having a Bank Account With an Issuer Make Credit Card Approval Easier?

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Better the risk you know than the one you don’t.

When it comes to personal finance, nothing is guaranteed. That goes double for credit. That’s why, no matter how perfect your credit or how many times you’ve applied for a new credit card, there’s always that moment of doubt while you wait for a decision.

Issuing banks look at a wide range of factors when making a decision — and your credit score is only one of them. They look at your entire credit history, and consider things like your income and even your history with the bank itself.

For example, if you defaulted on a credit card with a given bank 15 years ago, that mistake is likely long gone from your credit reports. To you and the three major credit bureaus, it is ancient history. But banks are like elephants — they never forget. And that mistake could be enough to stop your approval.

But does it go the other way, too? Does having a bank account that’s in good standing with an issuer make you more likely to get approved? While there’s no clear-cut answer, there are a few cases when it could help.

A good relationship may weigh in your favor

Credit card issuers rarely come right out and say much about their approval processes, so we often have to rely on anecdotal evidence to get an idea of what works. That said, you can find a number of stories of folks who have been approved for a credit card they were previously denied for after they opened a savings or checking account with the issuer.

These types of stories are more common at the extreme ends of the card range. If you have a borderline bad credit score, for instance, having a long, positive banking history with the issuer — like no overdrafts or other problems — may weigh in your favor when applying for a credit card. That’s because the bank is able to see that you have regular income and don’t overspend.

Similarly, a healthy savings or investment account with a bank could be a helpful factor when applying for a high-end rewards credit card. This allows the bank to see that you can afford its product and that you have the type of funds required to put some serious spend on it.

Having a good banking relationship with an issuer can be particularly helpful when the economy is questionable and banks are tightening their proverbial pursestrings. When trying to minimize risk, going with applicants you’ve known for years simply makes more sense than starting fresh with a stranger.

Some banks provide targeted offers

Another way having a previous banking relationship with an issuer can help is when you can receive targeted credit card offers. These are sort of like invitations to apply for a card that the bank thinks will be a good fit for you. While approval for targeted offers is still not guaranteed, some types of targeted offers can be almost as good.

For example, the only confirmed way to get around Chase’s 5/24 rule (which is that any card application will be automatically denied if you’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months) is to receive a special “just for you” offer through your online Chase account. When these offers show up — they’re marked with a special black star — they will generally lead to an approval, no matter what your current 5/24 status.

Credit unions require membership

For the most part, you aren’t usually required to have a bank account with a particular issuer to get a credit card with that bank. However, there is one big exception: credit unions. Due to the different structure of a credit union vs. a bank, credit unions only offer their products to current members of the credit union.

To become a member, you need to actually have a stake in that credit union. In most cases, this is done by opening a savings account and maintaining a small balance — $5 is a common minimum.

You can only apply for a credit union credit card once you’ve joined, so a bank account is an actual requirement in this case. That said, your chances of being approved once you’re a member aren’t necessarily impacted by how much money you have in the account.

In general, while having a bank account with an issuer may be helpful in some cases, it’s not a cure-all for bad credit. Your credit history will always have more impact than your banking history when it comes to getting approved for a credit card.

For more information on bad credit, check out our guide to learn how to rebuild your credit.

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