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US homelessness may rise 45% by year’s end — these groups are helping

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  • The coronavirus pandemic could cause US homelessness to rise 45% by the end of the year, according to one estimate.
  • Record waves of unemployment and evictions are forcing hundreds of thousands of Americans to the streets.
  • We spoke with homeless families in Oakland and Atlanta, as well as local nonprofits that are helping them land on their feet.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Weekly on Facebook.

There is a new wave of homelessness growing in the United States.

Amid record waves of unemployment and evictions spurred by the coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of Americans who were already living paycheck to paycheck are being pushed to the streets. 

An estimated 560,000 Americans are homeless on any given night, and experts predict the pandemic could increase homelessness by 45% by the end of the year, according to Columbia University researchers.

Business Insider Today interviewed people in Oakland and Atlanta who recently became homeless, as well as members and beneficiaries of programs providing them relief.

For Oakland residents Tanara Green and her 3-year-old son, a truck is home.

“I wasn’t always living out of my truck, of course,” Green said. “I had a nice, stable job and I was paying money faithfully to the landlord.”

Green left her last home because the shared apartment she was living in felt unsafe. But the landlord refused to give her deposit back, so she couldn’t afford a new house.

BI HOMELESSNESS   V1_CUT 7_FINAL.00_01_54_15.Still008

“Right now I need somebody to look at me as a mom, and not somebody who’s just messed up their credit,” Green said.

Leo Maco for Business Insider Today


To make matters worse, Green also lost her job during the pandemic when she couldn’t find childcare.

“We’ve been motel room to motel room, somebody’s house to somebody’s house,” she said. “I’m filling out these applications. I’m paying these deposits. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do on my half. And I’m getting nothing but ‘Oh, you have bad credit.'”

After six weeks in her truck, Green found the East Oakland Collective, a grassroots volunteer organization that provides services to homeless residents. The group set her up in a motel for a week while helping her find more permanent housing.

Candice Elder, founder of the East Oakland Collective, visits homeless encampments on a regular basis with her team, where they distribute food and also COVID-19 kits, including masks and hand sanitizer.

She said the group’s mission has been made even more difficult because of the pandemic.

“We’re having to provide resources for people who are on the street and who are visibly homeless, but also trying to provide resources for the folks that you don’t see — the people who are living in their cars, their vans, people who are living in their RVs,” Elder said. “And because we’re in this COVID-19 crisis right now, we’re really worried about the rate of homelessness even increasing even more in Oakland.”

east oakland collective

The East Oakland Collective, founded by Candice Elder, provides services like food and COVID-19 kits to homeless residents.

Leo Maco for Business Insider Today


California is home to the biggest homeless population in the United States. And like in the rest of the country, it is a problem disproportionately affecting Black Americans, who make up 13% of the national population but 40% of people who are homeless.

“We’re seeing the explosion of, you know, decades-long and deep racial disparities, health disparities, disparities as far as access to resources and economic means. And we’ve seeing it displayed on the streets,” Elder said.

One East Oakland Collective volunteer is homeless herself. Markaya Sparks was living in a donated tiny house, but had to leave it in mid-March because it wasn’t fitted for electricity or running water. She usually needed about 40 gallons a day, but during the lockdown, it became harder to find.

“I literally had to go across town in order to collect the amount of water I needed in order for me, my dogs, my daughter, you know, everything. It was ridiculous,” Sparks said.

Through a program run by the EOC, Markaya was eventually placed in a motel, where she has continuous access to water and electricity.  

Sparks believes the only way out of homelessness is for housing requirements to change.

“I’m not unhoused because of my own doing,” she said. “I’m unhoused because my landlord lost his property. And I can’t get housing because now another landlord wants me to have three times the rent.”

“It has to be humanity over profit, period. You have to have humanity over profit.”

In Atlanta, one formerly homeless family is trying to hold on to their “miracle” apartment.

homelessness neidigs atlanta

Jennifer and Christopher Neidig were evicted from their extended-stay motel in Atlanta when they could no longer pay.

Carlos Andres Cuervo for Business Insider Today


In Atlanta, a week before lockdown, Jennifer Neidig’s husband Christopher lost his latest temp job, forcing them to move with their two disabled children into an extended-stay motel. They used the money from Christopher’s tax returns and the stimulus for all their living expenses.

But when it ran out, the motel gave them a notice of eviction. 

“It’s the most frightening thing to be faced with, knowing that you don’t know what’s going to happen with your kids. You don’t know what’s going to happen one day to the next,” Jennifer Neidig said.

Many other Americans will likely face the same fate in coming months, with eviction moratoriums expiring across the US. Recent research has estimated that 30 million to 40 million renters are at risk of being evicted by the end of the year.

Once evicted, families face an uphill battle securing a new place to live, said Emily Benfer, a law professor at Wake Forest University and cocreator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard.

“It is a trauma that families and individuals are experiencing that takes an extremely long amount of time to recover from,” Benfer said. “One of the reasons for this is that once an eviction is filed, that is on the tenant’s permanent record. And so future property owners might screen to look for that. And they might be kept out of housing opportunities that would be of equal or positive experience for them.”

“At the same time, it also affects credit scores, the ability to apply for a mortgage, and other areas that one might want to access in order to increase opportunity and participation.”

Luckily, Neidig’s family found help in the form of Crossroads Community Ministries, a nonprofit that provides services to the homeless. The organization arranged for the Neidigs to temporarily stay in a two-bedroom apartment, an act Jennifer Neidig called “a miracle.”

“You would be surprised that the number of individuals experiencing homelessness who have income, they’re working or they have benefits,” Crossroads executive director Tony Johns said. “But it’s that hurdle, that barrier of moving costs, those security deposits, those application fees.”

HOMELESSNESS neidigs crossroads

Atlanta nonprofit Crossroads Community Ministries helped the Neidigs secure a temporary stay in a two-bedroom apartment that the Neidigs hope becomes permanent.

Carlos Andres Cuervo for Business Insider Today


They now rely on food stamps for groceries, and still must decide which bills to prioritize. Their goal is to make enough money to keep the apartment, although so far, Christopher Neidig has been unable to secure a job at a supermarket or call center.

“We’ve made it this far,” Jennifer Neidig said. “We will do anything possible to keep it, you know, and we know that first things first, we pay the rent. That’s a given. So we’re not going to be without a roof over our heads.”

But without  government assistance, there are no guarantees the Neidigs will be able to stay in this apartment. They are among the 30 million Americans who currently rely on unemployment benefits to survive. That’s up from 6.7 million in February this year.

“I really wish that it wasn’t so that the homeless were subjectified to cliches,” Jennifer Neidig said. “And it’s not the kind of demographic that you would expect — it’s normal families just trying to make it.”

Meanwhile, back in Oakland, Tanara Green is hoping people can see beyond her status as a homeless woman.

“Right now I need somebody to look at me as a mom, and not somebody who’s just messed up their credit,” she said.  “This is a time where somebody should open up their heart and understand the fact that I have a kid out here sleeping on a street, that anything can happen to us.”

“What people should know and understand is anybody could become unhoused and anybody unhoused is people,” Markaya Sparks said. “We’re all human beings. We all have a story.”

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How long do offers last, and what if I have bad credit? We answer the most-asked mortgage questions

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Forget the eyes – nowadays, it is our internet searches that provide a window into the soul.  

We often turn to search engines to ask the questions that are on our minds, whether we’re just looking for a quick answer or because it’s something we are embarrassed to ask in person. 

Now, Britons’ most common mortgage questions have been revealed, thanks to a new analysis of Google searches.  

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Comparethemarket.com looked at search data from the last twelve months, and discovered that the most asked mortgage question, with 20,960 searches, was ‘How long does a mortgage application take?’

Britons also wanted to know how long a mortgage offer lasted for, how to get a mortgage with bad credit, what an interest only mortgage was, and what a lifetime mortgage was. 

Applying for a mortgage can sometimes be complicated, and there is often a lot of jargon to contend with – so it is not surprising that people search online for more information.

This is Money asked Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, Nicholas Morrey of mortgage broker John Charcol and a spokesperson from the Mortgage Advice Bureau to help provide answers to the five most-asked questions.

How long does a mortgage application take?

The most common mortgage question on Google, this is particularly relevant at the moment given that some buyers are keen to complete before the stamp duty holiday ends on 31 March. 

But the answer depends on the type of mortgage application being submitted, according to Harris.

For example, a product transfer – where you stay with your current lender but move to a new deal – can take a matter of days, whilst a more complex mortgage application can take weeks.

‘Once the application is submitted, a lot depends on the lender and the complexity of the application – it may take anywhere between one day to two weeks for an initial assessment to take place,’  Harris said. 

If you’re self-employed or the mortgage valuation requires a surveyor to visit the property in person, then you are likely to face further delays. 

A firm mortgage offer will follow once your application has been fully reviewed and an acceptable valuation received.

The experts we spoke to said that typically, it would to take two to three weeks from application to offer – but the pandemic has meant that these timescales have been stretched. 

‘Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, lenders have suffered from staff and resource issues and tasks are taking longer to complete,’ said Harris.

‘Also, given the effect on employment and income, lenders are scrutinising applications in greater depth to see how applicants have been affected.’ 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

In most cases mortgage offers last for six months, although some offers will only last for three months.

‘If the offer expires, lenders will sometimes agree to an extension – although this will sometimes require a re-assessment by the lender,’ said Morrey.

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

‘For example, the original deal may no longer be available, or a new valuation may be required, or the lender may wish to re-assess your income and outgoings.’

Where an application involves a new-build property, the offer may last longer – potentially up to 12 months, according to Harris.

‘Borrowers should be aware that some new builds have completion deadlines that may not coincide with offer expiry dates,’ he said.

How to get a mortgage with bad credit?

Some lenders will not offer mortgages to people with a history of bad credit, and this was something that Google searchers wanted to know how to get around. 

Lenders that are willing to do so often charge a higher interest rate, to reflect the increased level of risk.

‘When getting a mortgage with bad credit, you can expect to borrow less and to pay more in interest in comparison to someone who has an exemplary credit record,’ explained the spokesperson for the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

‘High street lenders are generally averse to dealing with those who have bad credit, which can make it pretty difficult.

‘When you apply for a mortgage, it can register on your credit file – and if you apply to a number of lenders to see if they will lend to you, it may be doing additional damage to your credit score.’

‘Your best option, according to Mortgage Advice Bureau, is to contact an established and experienced mortgage broker.

‘They will have access to contacts and deals that are exclusive and not available to the general public. The mortgage broker will carry out a ‘soft’ credit check first, so your inquiry doesn’t negatively impact your credit score.’ 

What is an interest-only mortgage?

Another common question on Google concerned interest-only mortgages. So what are they? 

When borrowing for a home, you can either opt for a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage.

With a repayment mortgage, you will pay back a part of the loan, as well as the interest, each month until you eventually pay off the mortgage.

With an interest-only mortgage, you will only pay the interest each month, with the loan amount remaining the same.

‘It means your monthly payments will be lower but, at the end of the mortgage term, the full amount you borrow is still outstanding and you have to pay the lender back everything at that time,’ said Morrey.

‘When applying for an interest-only loan, the borrower must demonstrate that there is a clear and credible strategy in place to repay the capital,’ added Harris.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage is a mortgage secured on your home, with the loan only being repaid when you pass away, go into long-term care or sell the property.

Two examples of this are retirement interest-only mortgages and equity release mortgages.

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

‘Lifetime mortgages often have fixed rates of interest, and in the case of equity release mortgages, the fixed rate is for life and not just two or five years,’ explained Morrey.

He added: ‘They should not be confused with lifetime tracker mortgages, which track a specific index such as the Bank of England base rate – these will likely have an end date and won’t be for a ‘lifetime’ in itself.’

There are strict lending criteria, with the amount you can you borrow depending on your age.

‘Seeking expert financial and legal advice is crucial for this type of mortgage,’ said Harris.

‘An adviser covering both equity release and standard mortgages would be most useful as they can assess the most suitable route forward.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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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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