Las hipotecas reverse en Puerto Rico fracasan el doble que en Estados Unidos, en perjuicio de los consumidores

En los últimos años, las ejecuciones de hipotecas reverse por incumplimiento con requisitos técnicos están en su nivel más alto en Estados Unidos. Puerto Rico es uno de los lugares donde más ocurre este problema, casi al doble del promedio de EE UU

Reverse mortgages in Puerto Rico cause financial calamity for many seniors

SAN JUAN – Reverse mortgages are failing at nearly double the U.S. national average in Puerto Rico, a problem magnified on the island by sliding property values, lenders’ responses after natural disasters and unique challenges ranging from spotty mail service to the lack of some loan materials in Spanish. Across the United States, the loans – which allow seniors to draw down equity in their homes – are falling into default at unprecedented rates a decade after the onset of the Great Recession, when brokers wrote the most loans in the program’s history. An analysis by USA TODAY and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico found waves of reverse mortgages headed to foreclosure for reasons other than death, the natural way the loans are supposed to end. Almost one in four reverse mortgage loans failed from 2014 to 2018 over technical snags, according to the Government Accountability Office. Totals from 2019 compiled by the island’s office for financial institutions suggests an even greater share: 80% of the last year’s reverse mortgage foreclosures in 2019 were the result of tax defaults, insurance issues or occupancy problems.

Across the U.S., about one in seven loans met the same fate during those years, the USA TODAY analysis found. The work was done in partnership with Grand Valley State University in Michigan with support from the McGraw Center for Business Journalism and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Puerto Ricans in the US live in counties with the highest possibility of COVID-19 infection and death

This investigation is possible in part with the support of the Pulitzer Center and the Facebook Journalism Project. Miriam Moreno Santiago was picking up her mother’s luggage in Orlando, Florida, when she was told she wouldn’t be able to see her. They would be taking her directly from the airplane to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing. María Isabel Santiago Colón, her 68-year-old mother, lived in Brooklyn, New York, but health complications and her age drove her to move South with her daughter. However, her journey changed.

More Deaths in Puerto Rico than Announced During the Pandemic

Deaths in Puerto Rico have increased over the past three months despite the few COVID-19 losses reported on the island and the drop in fatalities from accidents and crimes due to quarantine confinement, as compared to 2019, the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) found. This, contrary to what was publicly said by Health Secretary Lorenzo González Feliciano and by the director of the Demographic Registry, Wanda Llovet the first week of May when the Department of Health sent the media the data on the deaths of March and April, without making the distinction that they were still significantly incomplete. On May 5, Secretary González Feliciano said in the Jugando Pelota Dura television program that deaths for the month of April totaled 1,750, “when typically in Puerto Rico we  have 2,500 deaths per month.” “How do you explain that? Possibly with the reduction in crime, the decrease in other conditions, but what has been done in Puerto Rico has resulted in a significant impact on the absolute number of deaths,” he continued in reference to the Government of Puerto Rico’s COVID-19 contention measures.

Unsuitable 23% of Shelters Listed by the Government of Puerto Rico for the Hurricane Season

Twenty three percent of the buildings on the list of shelters that the Department of Housing released for the 2020 hurricane season are schools with structural damage due to the earthquakes occurred in the southern part of Puerto Rico about six months ago. Since the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) warned a week ago that, in the southern region alone, that list includes 14 schools with damages classified as “unsuitable or partially unsuitable,” the agency have not revised the document, despite the fact that the hurricane season is underway. Of the 319 shelters that the Government identified a week ago, 73 are schools damaged from the earthquakes that require repair or shutting down areas, or the damage is so severe that they must close permanently, according to engineers hired by the Department of Education (DE, in Spanish) that inspected them. In addition to the 14 schools in the south, another 59 school shelters were classified “unsuitable” (red) or “partially suitable” (yellow) are located in 64 municipalities in Puerto Rico. Hormigueros, Aguada, Rincón and Manatí would have to cast off shelters whose schools were classified red.