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.

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