06-26-2017  10:27 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

The Skanner Wins NNPA Award for Best Layout and Design

Our graphic designer Patricia Irwin wins for July 2016 issues ...

Cooling Centers to open in Multnomah County Saturday, Sunday

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Multnomah County Leaders Release Statement on Safety at Summer Events

Officials advise public to check in, have a plan and be aware at public events ...

Portland Musician, Educator Thara Memory Dies

Grammy-winning Trumpeter, composer, teacher died Saturday at the age of 68 ...

St. Johns Center for Opportunity to Host Meet the Employer Event June 27

Employers represented will include Mary’s Harvest and Del Monte ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

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It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers ...

Civil Rights Groups Ask for Broad Access to Affordable Lending

Charlene Crowell writes that today’s public policy housing debate is also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and...

Criminal Justice Disparities Present Barriers to Re-entry

Congressional Black Caucus Member Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) writes about the fight to reduce disparities in our criminal justice...

Bill Maher Betrayed Black Intellectuals

Armstrong Williams talks about the use of the n-word and the recent Bill Maher controversy ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- The recession and its hangover may have turned bill-paying habits upside down. Cash-strapped Americans are paying off their car loans before they pay credit card bills and make mortgage payments, a study finds.

It used to be that Americans would pay their home loans first, then their credit card and car loans. After all, homes have been the most valuable possession for most people for decades, and nobody wanted to jeopardize that.

But TransUnion, a credit information company, studied the payment patterns of 4 million Americans with at least one car loan, one credit card and a mortgage and found a clear priority for staying current on the car loan.

Among Americans who were late on payments last year, 39 percent were delinquent on the mortgage while current on the car loan and credit cards, and 17 percent were late on credit cards while current on the other two.

Only 10 percent were late on the car loan while current on the other two.

"Today, most people need a car to get to a job or to look for a job, and that has made cars a priority," says Ezra Becker, the company's vice president of research and consulting.

When TransUnion first did the study in 2006, staying current on the mortgage was the priority: Only 3.6 percent of Americans were late on the mortgage and current on other payments. More people - 5 percent - were late only on credit cards.

It hasn't helped that home prices keep falling while the mortgage remains by far the biggest payment for most people, and that millions of people owe more on the mortgage than what their houses are worth.

The latest Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index found that prices in big cities had fallen to 2002 levels, down 34 percent from the peak.

There is also more leeway on the mortgage. Foreclosure can take two to three years. Cars can be repossessed 90 days after people stop paying.

Matt Saxton of Columbia, Md., was not surprised by the study's results. Saxton is on unpaid medical leave from work, recovering from spine surgery and relying on his savings.

Saxton says he dares not be late on his car payment and risk having his car repossessed. Instead, he's decided to be late on his credit cards and student loans.

"I can work with the credit card companies. They won't shut off or take away anything," says Saxton, who made a $474 payment this week. "I won't have the ability to get to work or even get another car if they repossess this one."

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