Transforming Student Loan Debt into Home Equity

Did you know that the total federal student college loan debt owed equals $1.3 trillion? Did you also know that in Ohio’s 9th Congressional District there are more than 57,000 habitable-but-vacant homes sitting on the market?

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur convened a meeting of stakeholders in early October to discuss a pilot program to stabilize neighborhoods and reduce student tuition debt burdens in Lucas and Cuyahoga Counties. Among the attendees were representatives of local universities, lending institutions, businesses and local government, including Cuyahoga Land Bank Chief Operating Officer Bill Whitney. The Congresswoman sought recommendations on program options.

The goal is to create a blueprint to transform student loan debt into home ownership opportunities. Options include expanding mortgage products; land bank partnerships and benefits for first time home buyers; and converting student loan repayments into a mortgage payment schedule.

Benefits would include creation of a new market for vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed homes in distressed neighborhoods.

“The presentation of the pilot program options spurred a lot of great discussion,” said Whitney.  “Reducing student debt and stabilization of neighborhoods is the goal.”

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