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Hispanic immigrants being taken for a ride on homeownership


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Lost in Translation

Would-be Hispanic homeowners find out they don't own as much as they thought they did

By Keith Plocek

Article Published Sep 7, 2006


Who / What:

Hispanic home buyers

Daniel Kramer

Gertrudis Cortez financed a house so her kids would have a place to stay. Daniel Kramer

No one told the Pardos that a fence and a driveway were going to pop up behind their house.Gertrudis Cortez's house has seen better days, but it's bustling with life: overgrown potted plants, barking bulldog, clucking chicken, gobbling turkey; Busch cans, hammock, shell of a Toyota van; diapered toddler, wobbling in the doorway, staring blankly past his grandmother at the construction on Lyons Avenue.

Cortez emigrated from San Salvador about 20 years ago. She signed a contract for deed on the house in 1994, the year after her husband died.

"I was left all alone," she says in Spanish, "so then I came and I got this house."

She financed the small duplex for $24,000, she says, so she could bring her son and daughter to Houston. Now the 70-year-old factory worker has three adults and five kids living with her, an enclave of strivers and learners making their way in a half-painted house snuggled up next to an abandoned service station in the Fifth Ward.

They're living the American dream, save for one problem:

After paying out more than $37,000 over 12 years, Cortez has reduced her principal by only $3,500.

"We're never going to finish paying for it," she says. "All our work for nothing."....................


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