On a cold Sunday afternoon 10 years ago, Comfort and Kofi Boateng stood with Comfort’s mother and their three children before a quarter-acre parcel in a brand-new subdivision in the center of Prince George’s County.
The place was called Fairwood. They stepped onto Lot 71, an empty stretch of gravel, and closed their eyes and bowed their heads. Comfort raised her hands to the sky.
A decade ago, Comfort and Kofi were at the apex of an astonishing journey they had made from Ghana in 1997, when they had won a visa lottery to come to America. They did not know it at the time, but they were also at the midpoint in their odyssey from American Dream to American Nightmare.
Today, they struggle under nearly $1 million in debt that they will never be able to repay on the 3,292-square-foot, six-bedroom, red-brick Colonial they bought for $617,055 in 2005. The Boatengs have not made a mortgage payment in 2,322 days — more than six years — according to their most recent mortgage statement. Their plight illustrates how some of the people swallowed up by the easy credit era of the previous decade have yet to reemerge years later.