Foreclosure to Homelessness: The Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis

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Report | June 25, 2009

Files: PDF | 8.58 MB | 40 pages

Since 2007, advocacy organizations working to end homelessness have watched with concern as a series of crises have gathered into another perfect economic storm resulting in an unprecedented growth in the number of individuals and families left without homes.

  • RealtyTrac reported 342,038 foreclosure filings — default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions — on U.S. properties in April 2009, a 32 percent jump from April 2008 and the highest monthly foreclosure rate since it began issuing its report in 2005.
  • According to a June 2009 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), job losses in May, while still high at 345,000, were less than half of January’s level. Even so, net job losses since the start of the reces¬sion total six million.
  • The official unemployment rate reached 9.4 percent in May 2009, and 27 percent of the 14.5 million persons who are unemployed have not been able to find work despite looking for 27 weeks or more.
  • In a recent empirical study of mortgage foreclosure (Robinson, et.al., 2008), nearly half of respondents (49%) indicated that their foreclosure was caused in part by a medical problem.
  • A Fall 2008 survey of 1,716 school districts nationwide was conducted by the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and First Focus. Nearly all (95.4%) school districts reported increasing numbers of homeless students.

In response to these indicators, the Alliance - along with the National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness – conducted a survey to explore the relationship between homelessness and foreclosure in June 2009.

Key findings include:

  • Housing providers (including emergency, transitional, and permanent housing) estimated that 5 percent of their clients experienced homelessness as a result of foreclosure; all respondents estimated that 10 percent their clients experienced homelessness as a result of foreclosure.
  • Those homeless due to foreclosure tended to be renters – not owners.
  • Many of those who faced homelessness as a result of foreclosure – both renters and owners - did not seek legal advice in foreclosure proceedings.

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The full report – outlining methodology, questions, and other findings – can be downloaded here.