The impact of the subprime mortgage crisis on community health

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Mothorpe, Christopher A.
Boston, Thomas
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Loans originated to borrowers with lower incomes and/or lower credit scores are classified as subprime. The spatial distribution of subprime loans is alarmingly concentrated in minority-dominated and low-income areas. Beginning in mid 2006 the subprime mortgage market began to see elevated levels of delinquent and defaulted loans. The causes are many but generally traced to the beginning of the reset periods for adjustable rate mortgages and the evaporation of demand for securitized subprime mortgages. As delinquent and default rates in subprime mortgages rise, areas with a concentration of high-risk borrowers are at risk to decline. The decline can be measured across four different groups of factors that indicate the health of a community. The four groups are: physical, institutional, socioeconomic and the residential body. The residential body factor group refers to the citizens of a community and their civic involvement. The analysis uses binary logistic regression to identify communities that are commonly associated with subprime mortgage defaults. Subprime loans in the ten-county Atlanta Metropolitan Area are the focus of the study. The analysis treats each census tract in the ten counties as an individual community. The sample loans are geocoded to the census tract level allowing defaulted loans to be tied to communities and their characteristics. The data is collected from a variety of sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Atlanta Regional Commission and RR Donnelley s Credit Risk Management database. The results indicate that the probability of subprime mortgage defaults are associated with higher vacancy rates, population loss, declining property tax revenues, depreciating property values, and declining owner reinvestment in their properties. Potential spill over impacts to the community include higher crime rates, decreased school funding and degradation of public infrastructure.
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