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‘I have $4 to my name.’ An extended eviction ban isn’t enough for some struggling renters | Coronavirus

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(CNN) — Millions of struggling renters will likely be protected from eviction — at least for another month.

The stimulus bill that was passed by Congress late Monday night extends a national ban on evictions until January 31. The moratorium, which was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September to stop the spread of the coronavirus, was initially set to expire at the end of this month.

The package also provides $25 billion in emergency rental assistance. But the relief bill still needs to be signed by President Trump.

Should the package go through, neither of the measures will likely be enough to keep the most at-risk renters in their homes past January.

“While extending the CDC eviction moratorium for just one month is insufficient to keep people housed for the duration of the pandemic, the extension provides essential and immediate protection for millions of renters on the verge of losing their homes in January,” said Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

An estimated 9.2 million renters who have lost income during the pandemic are behind on rent, according to an analysis of Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Once the moratoriums are lifted, many of these renters will be expected to pay their entire back rent or come up with some sort of payment plan with their landlord — or they could face losing their home.

CNN Business spoke with several renters who have been struggling to afford their monthly payments as a result of the pandemic.

‘Money is piling up against me’

Kelly Green, who lives in a $1,429-a-month apartment in Daytona Beach, Florida, has not been able to pay rent since September.

“The only reason I have a roof over my head is because of the eviction moratorium,” Green said.

Green makes her living selling rhinestone- and sequined-biker apparel at motorcycle rallies and other festivals.

After the shutdown in March, there were no festivals, no events and she had no income. Still, she cobbled together her savings, stimulus payment, rent relief and unemployment insurance payments and managed to get current on her rent through July. But she didn’t know how she’d make ends meet after the $600 a week supplemental unemployment support ended.

Green heard about a coronavirus-related rent relief fund offered by Volusia County, where she lives. She applied for assistance and was awarded $4,500 for three months’ rent.

“I thought, ‘Great!’ that will pay a few months’ rent, and I can move out in November when my current lease is over and I’ll still have a good credit rating that will allow me to rent myself another apartment,” she said.

But there was a snag: The Volusia County rent assistance program requires tenants to have been current on rent as of March 13, 2020. Green was behind on her rent in February and, as a result, her apartment complex wouldn’t accept the aid.

Without that money, Green was unable to pay full rent for October, November or December. And since she overstayed her lease in November, she’s now on a month-to-month lease that is $500 more expensive a month.

“Even if the moratorium is extended, money is piling up against me,” she said. “What would help me the most is if I receive a check for rental assistance for three months, that they take it.”

She knows it doesn’t make sense to stay and watch the amount she owes grow, but she said she doesn’t know where she’ll go without putting friends and family at risk of coronavirus exposure.

“It totally depresses you,” she said. “You feel like giving up. Where will I go when the CDC order expires, and I have this eviction on my record?”

Have to be out by Christmas

Mercedes Darby lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Nashville with her three high school-aged children and her daughter, Princess Thomas, who is in college. The two usually split the rent. But since both were laid off in March, they have not been able to afford the $1,250 a month rent since April and currently owe $9,000 in back rent and fees.

Even though Darby provided her landlord with a CDC declaration, which protects the family from being evicted for non-payment, they are now being evicted for a separate lease violation — Darby’s name is not on the lease.

Darby says the lease is in Thomas’ name, but she has been living there since they got the apartment a year and a half ago together and she has been making payments all along.

After missing a December 15th eviction court date, there was a default judgment giving the family 10 days to leave. So Darby is packing everything she owns to put in storage.

“We have to be out by Christmas Day or they will have the sheriffs in here,” she said. “With no money, I have to find a temporary place.”

Darby was laid off from her job handling member services at a large insurance company in March. She had been looking for a new apartment since July. But even after paying the application fees, she was repeatedly turned down because of her credit history and a prior bankruptcy. Now her daughter is likely to have trouble, too, because of this eviction.

In November, Darby was rehired to a similar job and money has been coming in again. But she now has to pay a lot more in fees and deposit money for an apartment because of her history.

“I have a good paying job,” she said. “I make enough, if you didn’t want triple the amount upfront.”

For now, she’s looking for a place for her family to stay through the holidays while she finds a more permanent home and prepares for her court date in February on the back rent she owes.

“We don’t have anywhere to go,” she said. “We don’t have family here and our friends can’t take all of us. I’m going to try to find a hotel. But that will take all the money I have to put toward another apartment.”

Waiting for rent relief

Bryan Clift’s work as a waiter in suburban Minneapolis dried up last March, at the same time school for his 10-year-old daughter Iyla moved online. Iyla’s mother, who she did not see regularly, died a few weeks ago. Now Clift is about $2,000 behind on rent and they are in danger of facing eviction.

“My daughter is everything I got,” he said. “I put her ahead of everything. Making sure she has a roof over her head and food on the table is the most important thing.”

They fared okay through the summer, with the unemployment insurance payments he received. But when the $600 in weekly supplemental payments expired, he feared he would fall behind on his $1,500 a month rent for the two-bedroom apartment.

“When I saw my savings go down I went to talk to the leasing people, who I’ve always had a good relationship with,” he said. “I said I’m going to try to do my best. They suggested I apply for some rent relief.”

He has applied for and expects to receive relief money from Prism, a local social services nonprofit. But it is not in hand yet.

“It is a waiting game,” he said. “If you’re going to ask for any aid right now it will take a while.”

With this anticipated support, he’s hoping to bridge the gap in income until he can work again.

“I could go get a job now,” he said. “I want to. I don’t like sitting around. But without the schools open, I can’t go to work. If something doesn’t change for me in the next few months, what am I going to do? I pushed back every bill that I can. And this rent relief will help, but for how long?”

Any additional help from the government is welcome, he said, but, “I could do without the stimulus check if I had better unemployment, because you can stretch that out longer.”

Evicted despite CDC protections

The worst already happened to Jordan Mills and Jonathan Russell and their two-year-old daughter Valkyrie.

Even though they were protected by the eviction moratorium, a court granted an eviction anyway.

Mills thought she did everything right. She provided the CDC declaration form protecting her from eviction to her landlord. She applied and received rent relief money from the city of San Antonio. She even made a payment plan.

“People like me are still being evicted for non-payment,” she said.

She made a payment arrangement with her landlord, but fell behind by about $450. The property owners filed for eviction citing a violation of one part of the CDC declaration in which Mills agreed to use “best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit.”

Mills drove to the courthouse to appear at her eviction hearing, but says she was unable to attend because she did not have money to pay for parking.

“I couldn’t afford parking, it is all $20,” she said. “I’m literally living hand-to-mouth. I got paid yesterday. I have $4 to my name.”

In May, Mills, who is an assistant manager at a payday loan company, had seen her hours cut. She realized her family was not going to be able to pay their rent along with their high utility bills during the Texas summer.

She applied for and received rental assistance money, a lump sum of $3,500 for three months rent.

When Mills contracted coronavirus, she said, their child care provider dropped them as a precaution and her husband left his job as a security guard to care for Valkyrie full-time, further cutting their income.

After the court ordered their eviction in November, they didn’t wait for the sheriff to arrive. Mills borrowed $1,400 from her mother and moved her family out of the three-bedroom, single-wide mobile home they rented for $1,175 a month and into a 470-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in San Antonio.

The family’s new apartment is in a building known as “second chance” leasing, for people with evictions or bad credit.

Mills paid dearly for that second chance. In addition to the $750 a month rent, a $299 deposit and a $300 pet deposit, she also had to pay a $650 risk fee because of her history.

“The worst has happened,” she said. “But I’m still afraid how it will affect me when I go to rent somewhere bigger, somewhere more safe. We have roaches. I don’t want to stay here.”

While she appreciates the rent relief they received, she said more rent assistance should go directly to landlords.

“If there was something for them, they wouldn’t be so quick to turn on the tenants.”



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What is a Subprime Mortgage?

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What is a subprime mortgage? If you’re asking this question, chances are good you’re either trying to borrow for a home with poor credit or you’ve been offered a loan you’re concerned is a subprime loan. We’ll explain the answer to the question “what is a subprime mortgage?” and discuss some of the risks and alternatives.

What is a subprime mortgage?

Prime loans usually offer competitive interest rates to well-qualified borrowers. A subprime mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage, except it has a higher interest rate. Subprime loans are geared toward borrowers with bad credit who can’t qualify for a prime mortgage at the best rates. Lenders take a bigger risk with subprime loans, so they charge substantially higher rates due to the borrower’s poor credit history.

If you have a credit score below 620, you may not be able to qualify for a prime mortgage, but you might get a subprime mortgage.

Types of subprime mortgages

There are multiple types of subprime mortgage loans. However, one particular type of loan — an adjustable-rate mortgage — is especially common for subprime mortgages.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Many subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs. The introductory rate on an ARM is fixed for a limited time. For example, a 5/1 ARM provides a fixed rate for five years. After that, the rate adjusts based on a financial index.

That means your interest rate may go down — but it could go up, too. ARMs carry more risk than fixed rate loans. If interest rates rise, monthly payments could increase. If you take out an adjustable loan, find out how high your payment could go. Don’t assume you’ll always be able to refinance or sell your home before it adjusts.

Fixed-rate mortgages

With fixed-rate subprime mortgages, the interest rate remains the same for the entire repayment period. Since the rate doesn’t change, payments don’t change.

The important question is, what is a subprime mortgage interest rate you’d qualify for? You need to make sure the rate is reasonable and that monthly payments are affordable.

Shop and compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders for poor credit to find the best subprime loan rates. And use a mortgage calculator to see how much your monthly payment would be for any loan you’re considering.

Interest-only mortgages

Interest-only mortgages allow you to pay only interest for a limited time, such as the first five years. This makes monthly payments more affordable, but you don’t make progress in reducing your loan principal.

At the end of the initial period, you’ll begin paying both principal and interest. Your payments may rise substantially because you’ll have a shorter timeline to pay your loan off. If you took a 30-year mortgage and only paid interest for the first 10 years, you’d have just 20 years to pay off your entire principal balance.

Most interest-only loans are also structured as ARMs, so you take the added risk of rates going up and payments rising.

Dignity mortgages

Dignity mortgages are a specific type of subprime loan offered by some lenders. With this type of mortgage, you’ll initially have a high interest rate. But if you make on-time payments for a period of time, your interest rate will eventually be reduced to the prime rate.

Subprime mortgage risks

It’s important to also consider if you’re willing to take on the risk of this type of loan. Some of the biggest risks include:

  • Interest costs will be high: You will pay significantly more mortgage interest over time than if you took out a conventional mortgage.
  • Finding a lender may be difficult: Not all mortgage lenders offer loans to subprime borrowers. You could be limiting your potential loan options.
  • Payments could increase: If you choose an ARM, you face the risk of interest rates going up and payments rising.
  • Foreclosure is possible: If you don’t pay your subprime mortgage loan, your lender will foreclose. Your credit could be severely damaged.

Lenders are required under Dodd-Frank financial reform laws to conduct an “ability-to-repay” assessment. This ensures borrowers are capable of paying back their loans. These mandates can reduce the risk for borrowers. But the bottom line is buying a house with bad credit can create a host of complications.

Alternatives to subprime mortgages

You may be wondering if there are other options. The good news is that there are multiple solutions for borrowers with bad credit. Some of the best options include these government-back loans:

  • FHA loan: FHA lenders often work with borrowers with lower credit. FHA loans are available to borrowers with credit as low as 500 as long as they make a 10% down payment. Borrowers with scores of 580 or higher can get approved with a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loan: A VA mortgage loan is available to eligible service members and veterans regardless of their poor credit history. The VA doesn’t set a minimum score, but some lenders do.

USDA loan: These allow you to purchase eligible homes in rural areas. More stringent underwriting is required to qualify borrowers with credit scores below 640. But it may still be possible to qualify.

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Indigo Platinum Mastercard Review | NextAdvisor with TIME

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We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus: No current offer
  • Annual fee: $0 – $99
  • Regular APR: 24.90%
  • Recommended credit score: 300-670 (Bad to Fair)

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help you build a better credit score (if you practice good credit habits) with monthly reporting to the three credit bureaus. Unlike many other options for building credit, this is an unsecured credit card, so it doesn’t require a cash deposit as collateral. But you may incur an annual fee, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At a Glance

  • Monthly payment reporting to the three credit bureaus for people with limited credit history or poor credit
  • Annual fee of $0, $59, or $75 the first year, depending on your creditworthiness ($75 version charges a $99 annual fee after the first year)
  • Unsecured credit card with no security deposit required
  • Standard variable APR of 24.9% 

Pros

  • Available to individuals with no credit history or low credit scores

  • Unsecured credit card

  • Annual fee could be as low as $0 depending on your creditworthiness

  • Monthly payments report to all three credit bureaus

Cons

  • No rewards

  • Annual fees vary depending on creditworthiness, and you won’t know your fee until you apply

  • High variable APR

  • $300 credit limit

Additional Card Details

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is geared toward people with “less than perfect credit” or minimal credit histories. Like other credit-building card options, it doesn’t offer a lot of perks.

You will get a few benefits, like online account access and reporting to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can also choose from multiple card designs for no extra charge.

Prequalification is another benefit of the Indigo Platinum Mastercard. Prequalifying is a great way to gauge your approval odds and the terms of your offer without filling out a full application and undergoing a credit check, which can temporarily hurt your credit score. If you do choose to apply after pre-qualifying, you’ll still be subject to credit approval with a hard credit inquiry.

Should You Get this Card?

Many credit cards available to people with bad credit scores are secured credit cards that require a cash deposit as collateral. The Indigo Platinum Mastercard offers an alternative to secured cards for building better credit, but has its own drawbacks.

For one, your credit limit is capped at $300. If you’re approved for a version of this card with an annual fee, it’ll be automatically applied, which means your starting limit could be as low as $225. 

The annual fee itself is another drawback. The amount you’re charged will depend on your creditworthiness when you apply. If your approval comes with an annual fee, that $59 or $99 ($75 the first year) charge can quickly add up over time. Consider other cards with no annual fee (and even no annual fee secured credit cards) that may make better long-term options for building a healthier credit profile.

How to Use the Indigo Platinum Mastercard

Because the Indigo Platinum Mastercard doesn’t offer any rewards and your credit limit is just $300, you should use this credit card for the sole purpose of improving your credit score. Only make purchases you can afford to pay off when your statement is due, and pay your bill on time to avoid up to $40 in late fees and a penalty APR up to 29.9%. 

Pro Tip

Building a great credit score, whether you’re starting from no credit history or repairing damaged credit, requires a foundation of good credit habits your credit card can help establish — such as timely payments, low credit utilization, and paying off your balances in full each month.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard’s low credit limit means you’ll need to be extra careful with your spending to improve your credit score. Using more than 30% of your available credit can hurt your credit utilization rate — one of the most influential factors in your credit score. With a credit limit of $300, that means you should keep your charges below $90.

The goal of a card like Indigo Platinum Mastercard is to, over time, improve your credit score enough to qualify for a better credit card. Use this card to establish and maintain the healthy credit habits (like timely payments in full, low utilization, and consistently paying down balances) that will improve your credit long-term, and help you qualify for a card that’s better suited for your spending habits in the future.

Indigo Platinum Mastercard Compared to Other Cards

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0 – $99

  • Regular APR:

    24.90%

  • Recommended credit:

    300-670 (Bad to Fair)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    22.49% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $39

  • Regular APR:

    26.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

If your credit score isn’t great and you want to start building the credit foundation to move in the right direction, the Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help by reporting your usage to the three credit bureaus — if you practice good habits that will reflect positively on your report. But you may also take on a pricey annual fee and risk high utilization due to the card’s low credit limit. Before applying, consider other cards for bad credit and secured credit cards with no annual fee that may better serve your credit-building goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is a decent option for consumers with poor credit who don’t want to put down a security deposit on a secured credit card. Check your prequalification terms, and compare other options for people with fair credit or bad credit before applying.

The credit limit for the Indigo Platinum Mastercard is $300. If you get approved for a version with an annual fee, your annual fee will be deducted from your credit limit.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is an unsecured credit card, so you do not have to put down a cash deposit as collateral.

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Akron community supports council recommendations on police reform

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Doug Livingston
 
| Akron Beacon Journal

Critics on either side of the police reform debate see promise in what Akron City Council has done.

The union representing officers “can work with” the eight recommendations in council’s 22-page report on Reimagining Public Safety, which was released publicly this week.

The head of the Akron NAACP is applauding the time and consideration council committed to do “something that definitely needed done.”

And the Rev. Greg Harrison, a retired Akron detective a regular critic of local lawmakers who fail to understand the inner working of the city’s police force, praised council members for allowing officers to educate them on policing in Akron before putting together “substantial” and “solid” recommendations.

“I am very surprised, because really I did not think that the council was going to come up with such substantial recommendations,” said Harrison. “I am surprised, but I’m happy. I think the recommendations, if implemented, put us light years ahead of what any task force can come up with.”

Eleven of the 13 City Council members present Monday afternoon unanimously supported a resolution adopting the recommendations. But that’s all they are, at this point: recommendations to work with the next police chief, the mayor and community partners to craft legislation after collecting public input.

And some of these recommendations have been recommended before.

The first — to give the city’s independent police auditor enough staff and resources to do his job — has been sought by the community since the position was created in the early 2000s. It was a priority in a 2011 report by the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent firm of law enforcement experts who dived into policing in Akron when leaders kicked around the idea of reforms more than a decade ago.

“I want to applaud them for taking the time to do what they did,” Judith Hill, president of the Akron NAACP said after looking over the recommendations. “I think it was important and it was something that definitely needed to be done.

“And I know this is the beginning of a process,” she continued, “but I don’t see anything that sets aside funding to support changes.”

Some recommendations, like crisis intervention training to all officers, identify limited funding as a barrier.

On that, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7 President Clay Cozart agrees with some of the loudest advocates for change.

“It’s going to require more officers. It’s going to require more training. And it’s going to require more funding, and that’s probably the most difficult issue to tackle,” Cozart said.

He added that he found it “disingenuous” that council, though reaching out to him Sunday, waited until 10 minutes before the recommendations went public on Monday to share them with him.

General approval of the eight recommendations, which can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3piHNyc, was not without some concern. The Beacon Journal sought but received no comment from Police Cheif Ken Ball, who is retiring in February, or Maj. Michael Caprez. 

Cozart said ramping up foot and bike patrols is fine, as long as an officer in danger isn’t left high and dry because backup is walking to get there.

Harrison paused when he got to language about hiring. Candidates are screened and questioned on their bad credit reports and drug offenses, which could be minor and nonviolent. This interview process, which involves a lie detector test, determines whether they get hired.

“They have absolute control of recommending or not recommending them,” Harrison said of sergeants doing the background investigations of potential cadets. “When they say it’s an honesty issue, that’s a judgement call. And when you’re talking about implicit biases, a lot of those biases come into play.”

Hill said she and members of her community have a strong interest in some citizen oversight committee. Council, instead, recommended strengthening the police auditor’s position, which Hill said she was something sought “across the board” in the community.

Now, she said, lawmakers need to find ways, in conjunction with the mayor and Akron police and community partners, to fund these recommendations and benchmark progress by collecting data today “to see how changes are affecting policies and procedure” after implementation.

“I was pleased to see all of the progress our city is making both in structure and inclusive thinking to better benefit Akron citizens and help our police department both reflect and serve the community more effectively,” added Bree Chambers, president of Akron Minority Council. The group of youth-led social justice advocates handed the mayor and council a list of police reforms in July, including a “great many” of that are “outlined or alluded to” in council’s recommendations.

As council works to legislate the recommendations, University of Akron Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair Rebecca Erickson has been asked to host virtual town hall meetings with residents in every city ward. Faculty and students will facilitate the conversations generated by the recommendations. Erickson said police officers will join the discussion by the end of the spring semester as a community survey solicits broader feedback.

Council President Margo Sommerville said that since council announced the special committee on Reimagining Public Safety in July, the public has asked when they would get the chance to speak on the topic of policing and community relations.

“Maybe there’s something that we missed that needs to be addressed,” Sommerville said. “So, we want to give the public that opportunity to do that. We’re really excited about this partnership and collaboration with the University of Akron because that too is something that we have not tapped into enough.”

Prior to approving the recommendations, council members thanked police officers and command staff who educated the special committee’s four working groups. It was enlightening, they said.

“We are probably far more advanced than many police agencies in terms of incorporating social services in to the police work that we do,” said Councilwoman Linda Omobien, the director of clinical services at Community Support Services.

“The Akron Police Department liaisons showed that this is an institution that has led the way on many of these issues, like on Crisis Intervention Team training. At the same time, they really showed that they want to keep moving forward,” said Councilman Shammas Malik, who was regarded by colleagues on council as critical to the success of a fact-finding, deliberative process that spanned five months and 22 meetings.

“It would not have been possible if not for him,” Sommerville said.

Malik credited Sommerville’s leadership as the driving force in “something that council hasn’t done before.”

“When we talk about building equitable policing, when we talk about improving community trust with law enforcement, here are ideas that I think we can all get behind,” Malik said. “Getting community input through the University of Akron is going to be important.”

Councilman Russ Neal said the process council started in September to better understand policing is a model for understanding and legislating solutions to other complex problems like housing high utility costs in the city. Neal asked council to consider more staff to help them dive deeply into other issues.

Along with involvement, Cozart said the union supports legislation that is grounded by facts. The process led to “more enlightenment and education on both sides,” he said.

“Change has to occur,” Hill said. “And it’s going to be a win-win for everyone once we get through the process.”

Reach reporter Doug Livingston at [email protected] or 330-996-3792.

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