Story Supported by McGraw Center Looks at Reverse Mortgages in Puerto Rico

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Alberto Bartholome/For USA TODAY

A collaborative report on the problems reverse mortgages are causing for seniors in Puerto Rico, produced with backing from the McGraw Center for Business Journalism, was published in USA TODAY and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo. It’s the first time a McGraw Center project, including videos, appeared in both English and Spanish.

The story is a followup to an earlier piece in USA TODAY based on data developed by McGraw Fellow Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, which showed that problematic reverse mortgages were causing African American and Latinx seniors to lose their homes at much higher rates than white seniors.

That story primarily focused on the impact on African American communities on the mainland. But after it came out, the reporters took a closer look at the data from Puerto Rico and realized the problems were even worse there. In addition to the issues faced by borrowers on the mainland, Puerto Rican seniors’ difficulties were compounded by language issues and by the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The latest report was produced in partnership with Grand Valley State University and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, with financial support from the McGraw Center and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.