Archived Project

Subprime Mortgages

Pew has operated several initiatives to conduct research and promote public education and advocacy to advance common-sense solutions to help Americans save for tomorrow and manage debt today.

Home ownership is part of the American Dream, providing not just a place to live, but also a way to acquire wealth and financial security. But families’ home equity and even the very ownership of their homes are being threatened by abusive practices in the subprime mortgage market. A mix of risky mortgage products, loose underwriting standards and weakening home prices is producing a record volume of foreclosures and defaults.

More information on this project is available from the Center for Responsible Lending, our project partner.


The Center for Responsible Lending aimed to champion specific and practical policy solutions to curb abusive subprime home loans by strengthening underwriting and disclosure standards. The center vigorously promoted practical solutions such as requiring mortgage lenders to verify a borrower’s income and evaluated the ability to repay the debt at the fully indexed rate.

In the absence of federal action, states have been experimenting with stronger regulation of lending practices, refinance programs, homeowner counseling and other actions. From 2007 to 2008, the Pew Center on the States and the Pew Health Group teamed up to provide the first-ever comprehensive look at what states have been doing to address the foreclosure crisis. Defaulting on the Dream: States Respond to America’s Foreclosure Crisis showcases state approaches in two principal areas: (1) helping borrowers avoid foreclosure and keep their homes; and (2) preventing problematic loans from being made in the first place.

Our Work

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  • Defaulting on the Dream: Arizona

    ONE IN 18 HOMEOWNERS IN ARIZONA is estimated to be in foreclosure by the end of 2010, as a result of a subprime-related loan. Years of easily accessible credit and relatively low home prices that facilitated homeownership in the state have ended, leaving in their wake stricter lending terms and stagnating home appreciation. Arizona is one of about a dozen states with a higher estimated... Read More

  • Defaulting on the Dream

    Few imaginable economic events send the same message of fear and foreboding in America as a housing crisis. For most Americans, their homes are their greatest asset. And for the states, industries dependent on housing are cornerstones for economic growth and fiscal stability. Read More

  • 1 in 33 Homeowners Projected to be in Foreclosure Within the Next Two Years

    Washington, DC — One in 33 homeowners is projected to be in foreclosure primarily over the next two years, as a result of subprime loans made in 2005 and 2006, according to a new report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. In some states, the outlook is especially grim; for instance, nearly one in 11 homeowners in Nevada is projected to be in foreclosure and one in 18 Arizona... Read More