Foreclosure and Homelessness

On June 26, 2009, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, along with six other homeless advocacy organizations, issued a joint report titled Foreclosure to Homelessness 2009. The purpose of this study was to better understand the connection between homelessness and the recent uptick in foreclosures.

Methodology for this study involved surveying 178 organizations across the country that provide services to homeless or very low income individuals and households, including shelter providers, transitional housing providers, food assistance organizations, legal aid, etc. The study concluded that roughly 10 percent of the 2008 homeless population had been directly impacted by foreclosure.

Interestingly, of those surveyed, shelter providers and transitional housing providers reported a lower proportion of individuals homeless due to foreclosure than other types of service providers. This may be because other agencies, such as food assistance providers or legal aid, serve those who are very low income or on the brink of homelessness. To that end, when housing and shelter agencies are isolated from other types of service providers, the portion of those homeless due to foreclosure decreases to 5 percent.

This study, however, is not the only data available to provide perspective on homelessness due to foreclosure. The National Alliance to End Homelessness generally looks to quantitative data collected by Continuum of Care organizations that submit  Point-in-Time counts and HMIS data to HUD for trends and information about homelessness. Some communities collect data beyond what is required by HUD to better understand the forces that cause a person to lose their home. Two such communities, San Francisco and Indianapolis, included “foreclosure” on their January, 2009 reasons for homelessness survey.

The following interactive chart shows the percent of individuals from each of the two communitites that self-indentified foreclosure, job losses, alcohol/drug abuse, eviction, or other reasons as their self-identified reason for being homeless. Click on the individual bar segments to see values for each reason.

Note: Indianapolis Data in this chart is from the 2009 Homelessness Counts Report published in June 2009 by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP). San Francisco data in this chart is from the 2009 San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey published by the San Francisco Human Services Agency..

Conclusions about homelessness that are rooted in community-level data collection provide the most accurate information about the primary causes of homelessness. Since collecting this data is not federally-mandated, the format for gauging the root causes of homelessness is not standardized. However, the results of these community-level surveys (several shown in the interactive map below) are valuable for navigating the gap between the results of the Foreclosure to Homelessness survey and community-level data collected during the most recent homeless census.

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