This story discovers some negative outcomes within Habitat for Humanity, the popular charity that helps poor families become homeowners. The report found that Habitat's recipients were ill-prepared for home ownership. More than 40 percent of the local affiliate's homeowners filed for bankruptcy after moving into their homes, and nearly half of those who filed for bankruptcy did so multiple times. For many, Habitat's benefits, including its hallmark zero-interest mortgage, fell victim to crushing financial stresses. They found at least 40 examples of homeowners refinancing their no-interest mortgage, adding costly second mortgages or tacking criminal bail bond liens onto their homes. Desperate for cash paid at closing when taking a new home loan, homeowners paid fat fees and took on steep interest rates, some as high as 24 percent. Seventeen homeowners either lost their homes in foreclosure of deeded them to others. Some contributing factors involved Habitat for Humanity, for having inadequate front-end financial training, and a failure to protect Habitat mortgages from new lenders. Other factors stemmed from poverty in Memphis.
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