Defending PACE from Media Sensationalism

Statement originally published by PACENation regarding the August 15, 2017 Wall Street Journal story, “More Borrowers Are Defaulting on Their ‘Green’ PACE Loans”

Residential PACE (R-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 Wall Street Journal has ignored.

There is a great story to tell, but instead, the Wall Street Journal, recently ran another in a series of misleading stories about PACE. The story, 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 end up in foreclosure 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 delinquencies has increased. But, there is absolutely no indication that the PACE assessment has been the direct cause of the delinquencies 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 outperforms payment failures on credit cards. Most home delinquencies (many of which are cured) that result in a foreclosure or tax sale 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: ever homeowner should have a perfect outcome. We cannot let a 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.

Lead image credit: Gray Watson | CC BY-SA 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons

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David was introduced to PACE in 2009 while helping to develop Energize Bedford, an energy efficiency financing program and precursor to New York’s Energize New York commercial PACE program, in Bedford, New York, where he served as an elected Councilman from 2008 through 2015. Before his careers in energy and politics, he spent over 20 years as an investment banker to state and local governments, financing a wide range of capital facilities and programs at national firms including Credit Suisse First Boston and J.P. Morgan.  David joined PACENation in late 2010 as its first staff member. Now a membership non-profit, PACENation is an advocate for PACE, source of information and resources, and leader in developing PACE policies, best practices and standards. David earned a bachelors degree in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and holds a Masters Degree in Public and Private Management from Yale University. 

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