In the News

Today people are incurring a more dangerous kind of debt, says Tamara Draut, director of economic opportunity programs at Demos, a public policy organization in New York that's conducting a nationwide study of Americans and debt. "People are living paycheck to paycheck, and, after they've paid the bills, everything else -- like groceries or back-to-school clothes -- goes on the credit card," Draut says.
In 2002, more than 450,000 people over the age of 50 filed for bankruptcy, according to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project at Harvard University. For those who are trying to pay off their credit card debt, the latest report by the research firm, Demos, cites that one-fifth of seniors spend more than 40 percent of their income on debt payments alone
 
Soaring health costs, rising interest rates, unplanned expenses such as the death of a spouse, and now, rising gasoline prices, are affecting millions of seniors in the United States.

Eighteen- to 24-year-olds have an average $2,985 in credit card debt, according to last year's Demos USA study, "Generation Broke." The average plastic debt for 25- to 34-year-olds is $4,088.

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.
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"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.

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