SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 5, 2011) The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development released a report today, “Untold Stories of The Foreclosure Crisis: Southeast Asian Americans in the Central Valley” that for the first time, looks specifically at how the foreclosure crisis has impacted Southeast Asian Americans in the Central Valley.
The report finds that while Southeast Asian Americans represent between 2 and 5 percent of the overall population of each Central Valley county; they tend to be concentrated in low and moderate-income zip codes with the highest rates of foreclosure.
Using a surname search of Notices of Default from May-August 2010, researchers discovered that there were 398 Southeast Asian American homeowners in default in Sacramento and Elk Grove, representing 5 percent of all Notices of Default, while Southeast Asian Americans numbered only 4 percent of the population of the county.
Nearly 70 percent of Hmong homeowners in Sacramento County pay more than 30 percent of their income towards housing, a statistic that sets them up to be unlikely to afford their homes when mortgage rates adjust or there is a loss of income. The report uses data analysis, focus group dialogues with local community members, and interviews with public agencies and housing counseling organizations in the Central Valley to inform its findings.
“Statistics show that the Central Valley is among the hardest hit of all areas in the country when it comes to the foreclosure crisis,” said Doua Thor, executive director of SEARAC. “For the first time, this comprehensive report details the unique circumstances of Southeast Asian Americans in the Central Valley and how they are impacted by the foreclosure crisis. We found that not just homeowners, but renters are also impacted; and the credit histories of multiple generations of family members have been ruined by foreclosures, demolishing the familial safety-net that Southeast Asian American households have traditionally relied on.”
The report finds that due to linguistic isolation, Southeast Asian American homeowners are less likely to access help from mainstream housing counseling agencies; Southeast Asian American homeowners are more susceptible to loan modification and other scams due to lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate services; and, because of the disproportionately high numbers of Southeast Asian American renters, Southeast Asian American households are more vulnerable to fraud, abuse, and unlawful evictions from foreclosed properties.
Long term impacts include mental health and wellness issues as well as inability to find adequate housing due to credit problems. Because several generations of Southeast Asian Americans tend to pool their money together in order to afford to purchase a home, the impact of home foreclosure hurts many more people than just the immediate or nuclear family.
“Many more resources need to be directed to the Central Valley to address these issues,” said Lisa Hasegawa, executive director of National CAPACD. “Greater investment in the region to develop community based organizations already serving Southeast Asian American communities and support for housing counseling agencies already doing the work of helping families cope with foreclosure would go a long way to alleviate the challenges facing vulnerable communities.”
The report recommendations are:
• Strengthen working relationships and networks in the Central Valley through convenings and ongoing communication.
• Engage and invest in existing Southeast Asian American community based organizations (CBOs) broadly to conduct culturally and linguistically appropriate public education outreach regarding foreclosure intervention for both impacted homeowners and tenants.
• Grow capacity among housing counseling agencies and CBOs to serve all Southeast Asian American groups.
• Encourage active and sustainable partnerships between housing counseling agencies and CBOs for cross-training to expand housing counseling capacity so that all subgroups within the Southeast Asian American community can be reached.
• Identify organizationally stable Southeast Asian American-serving CBOs and assist them to develop the capacity to provide housing counseling services for both homeowners and renters.
• Invest in the Central Valley on a larger scale.