Local data indicates that financial literacy and housing counseling services remain critical.
A state report indicated that 12.5% of Allen County mortgages were subprime loans, thus, more likely to end in foreclosure. It was also determined that subprime lenders were serving a disproportionate number of the Indiana’s minority borrowers. Mortgages applied for by African American borrowers in Indiana were 1.39 times more likely to be subprime than white applicants. Additionally, between 5% and 13% of our state’s foreclosures involve mortgage fraud. The primary causes of Indiana’s foreclosure crisis include: job losses; high number of first-time homebuyers; loans with high LTV ratios; the state’s slow rate of home price appreciation; and certain lending practices.
Residents are also not accessing the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit that could provide much needed economic stability to struggling families. It is estimated that $6 million goes unclaimed by Allen County residents who are eligible but not using the tax credit. This credit needs to be accessed and invested by low-income taxpayers, and could be used to restore credit, or grow assets by providing a down payment on a home.
Likewise, 19.6% of Fort Wayne households are considered “underbanked” and 7.6% are “unbanked.” These households are at greater risk of financial instability and becoming victims of fraud or theft. The average full-time worker without a bank account can spend over $40,000 over the course of their working life to just cash paychecks. In Fort Wayne, Black and Hispanic residents are at greater risk of being unbanked, as well as those with limited education and incomes below $30,000.
As a HUD certified agency, the housing department provides financial and housing education, counseling, and coaching. The housing department assists individuals not only in our immediate community but throughout Allen County as well as 12 surrounding counties with housing issues that range from preventing the loss of one's home to purchasing a home. The Urban League offers numerous workshops to address housing issues, such as foreclosure prevention, tenant training, home maintenance, financial management, new home buyer education and one-on- one counseling.
In 2016-2017, the Fort Wayne Urban League provided housing counseling and financial literacy workshops for 738 clients and helped resolve or prevent mortgage delinquency for 278 clients providing a positive community impact of 22 million.