The March 4 front-page article “We don’t believe in living for free” told of a Prince George’s County couple fighting eviction from their home of five years even though they had never paid any money on their mortgage. While fascinating, the article did not reveal the true face of foreclosure in the county, and it was a disservice to readers who want to understand the situation.
The reality of foreclosure in Prince George’s is this: People were aggressively pursued by mortgage brokers, who in turn received bonuses from banks for selling consumers high-interest loans. The foreclosure crisis is not the result of speculation by people such as Keith and Janet Ritter, the focus of the article.
Bankers were in such a hurry to lend money that they did so without requiring any documentation of income and offered no advice to consumers about the affordability of their loans. They promised that housing prices would continue to rise and told borrowers they could refinance and get a better loan in six months. They did not care whether the loans would be paid back. Why? They were securitizing them and selling them off to investors.
Families, having been promised that they could live middle-class lives, struggled for years to make unaffordable mortgage payments. Now that the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, lenders are eager to point their fingers at consumers and pretend this is all about greedy borrowers.
Vicki King Taitano, Riverdale
The writer is director of the Maryland Legal Aid
Bureau’s Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project.
The article on the Maryland couple fighting eviction from their home was so farcical that I had to reread it to make sure it wasn’t satire. Nope, no satire there, just a disheartening testament to the American Entitlement Society gone extremely awry. Where else could two people occupy a 4,900-square-foot, lavishly furnished home for five years without making a single payment? And then manage to blame — straight-faced — their situation on the evil banks or the unjust foreclosure system?
To any rational human being, these circumstances would scream, “Hey, honey, don’t you think it’s time we moved on to a nice, one-bedroom apartment somewhere, since that’s really all we can afford?”
Bill Sawicki, Washington