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PACENation responds to the August 15, 2017 Wall Street Journal story, “More Borrowers Are Defaulting on Their ‘Green’ PACE Loans”

Residential PACE has been the best financing solution for the roughly 160,000 homeowners who have used it for energy, water, and safety related projects that they wanted or needed to make; projects that made their homes more comfortable, healthier, safer, less expensive to heat and cool, and more valuable. State and local government partners also appreciate the tens of thousands of local jobs that R-PACE has helped create and sustain. PACE financing for commercial, industrial, agricultural and non-profit owned properties is now available widely throughout the United States, a success story the Journal has ignored.

There is a great story to tell. But instead, the Wall Street Journal, yesterday, ran another in a series of misleading stories about PACE. Yesterday’s, again, includes many ill drawn conclusions and seems to reflect the author’s clear bias for sensationalism.

There is simply no evidence to suggest that PACE is a looming crisis for the banking industry or homeowners.  None.  Zero. There is no data to suggest that PACE homes are delinquent or likely to default at rates higher than those for the broader housing market in PACE served communities. With more than 60,000 new homes using PACE over the previous year, it is not surprising that the number of defaults has increased. But there is absolutely no indication that the PACE assessment has been the direct cause of the delinquencies or defaults in any but the tiny number of anecdotal cases that the Journal has reported on.

Learning from these bad outcomes, PACE programs are working hard to eliminate them to every extent possible, and PACENation’s Consumer Protection Policies go well beyond those available to homeowners who use other methods of paying. The Journal notes, for example, that PACE defaults are well below those for credit cards. Most home delinquencies (some of which are cured) and defaults are caused by a loss of job, a catastrophic household financial event, or in the height of the financial crisis, homeowners simply walking away from properties.

PACE providers have proven a willingness to work with homeowners who are in distress. Since 2014, mortgage lenders have foreclosed on thousands of homes in communities served by PACE.  PACE programs have foreclosed on none. Zero. PACE is under attack by mortgage lenders and realtor groups who cannot accept that energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, and certain resiliency measures are valid state and local government policy concerns. PACENation and our members are intently focused on adhering to the strongest consumer protections with a clear goal: every homeowner should have a perfect outcome. But we cannot let failure to achieve perfection in the eyes of a Wall Street Journal reporter result in the loss of the overwhelming good PACE creates for homeowners, local businesses, and our government partners.

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David Gabrielson
Executive Director, PACENation

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