In the News

Signs of the wreckage abound. There are, first of all, the high gasoline prices caused by damage to the Gulf Coast's drilling wells and refineries.
"Voting has never been a right in America. It has been a privilege," said Joseph "Jazz" Hayden, campaign director for Unlock the Block, a coalition of 85 organizations working to change the law prohibiting citizens with felony records to vote.
Two groups of disenfranchised potential voters--non-citizens and former felons--are pushing the city to give them the right to vote in municipal elections.
Steve Carbo, of the Democracy Project, a New York-based advocacy group that pushed for broader voter registration, said Iowa did far better than many states in implementing the provision.
Voter registration among the disabled and elderly in Iowa increased eight-fold between the 2000 and 2004 elections, Secretary of State Chet Culver said Wednesday.
People ages 45 to 59 are the most likely to refinance, according to Demos, a nonprofit public-policy organization in New York City.
The real estate bubble will eventually burst, says Cary Silvers, vice president of New York City--based GfK NOP, a market-research company that in 2004 gathered information on boomers' attitudes toward refinancing.
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When an appraiser overvalues a home that can lead to an upside down mortgage where you end up owing more than the property is worth. "This is a major problem," says David Callahan, with an advocacy group called Demos that recently looked into just how widespread the problem is.
Appraisal experts and consumer advocates alike are now sounding an alarm about a startling problem that could have you borrowing more than your home's actual value.
"This is an age when you set credit and finance benchmarks for the rest of your life," said Tamara Draut, lead author of the Demos report. "Young adults starting off in the red will find that it impacts their financial security for years to come."
Already young adults 25 to 34 have the second-highest rate of bankruptcy, just after those 35 to 44, according to a Federal Reserve survey of consumer finance data analyzed by Demos, a nonprofit public-policy group.

According to a study released in April by Demos, a public policy group in New York City, people are borrowing more than their homes are worth, and as a result, the amount of home equity has fallen from 68 percent in the early 1970s to 55 percent last year. Florida's red-hot real estate market may have a serious downside. Fraud.

Javier Silva of Demos, a New York-based think tank, yesterday opposed any change. Raising the limit would extend a dangerous trend of loosening lending standards to enable consumers to buy homes they can't truly afford, Silva said. "The answer is to find ways to lower home prices, not simply raise debt limits to allow inflated prices to soar even higher," he said.
A proposal to reduce housing costs by relaxing federal lending limits in pricey real estate markets drew a mixture of praise and sharp criticism yesterday from real estate analysts.
Demos's senior research associate and author of A House of Cards: Refinancing the American Dream, Javier Silva, said that, even in the absence of a real estate crash, many families "are facing a financial crisis," partially because they've taken on more mortgage debt.
As more and more people have rushed to be homeowners, they actually own less of their homes than they have in decades...adding another risk factor to the overheated real estate market.
"I've been raising this issue since the early 1990s but people only started pay attention after the election of 2000," Hayden, director of the New York-based advocacy group Unlock the Block, said in a telephone interview. "It became an issue after people became aware that 800,000 citizens in Florida couldn't vote.