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About the Report The Impacts of Foreclosures on Families and Communities details what is known about how foreclosures adversely affect households and their neighborhoods -- from children and the elderly to public safety and local property tax revenues. The report, a comprehensive resource for local officials, advocates, and concerned laypeople, also looks at policies, programs, and response strategies to prevent or mitigate the fallout.
The report talks about the impact of foreclosures on older adults & the potentially devastating effect of a single dislocation. Do you have any suggestions for how to lessen the impact on the elderly or any examples of programs that specifically seek to reduce foreclosures or displacement of our senior members of society?
In other work we've done looking at relocating the elderly, it looks like this group in particular needs a hands-on advocate to help them navigate the process. Some older people may find the foreclosure process confusing. Others may have physical limitations which make housing seach difficult. Older people are more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions that may be exacerbated by the stress and fear of foreclosure. All of these situations make foreclosure and related relocation very difficult and can lead to dire outcomes. While some seniors may have family members, friends or others they trust who they can turn to during this time, other do not. Efforts to reach out to this community and come along side them with ongoing, personal assistance, can help mitigate negative outcomes. Also, AARP released a report on foreclosure and other Americans last fall. It can be found at: http://www.aarp.org/research/credit-debt/mortgages/i9_mortgages.html
In the chart detailing different foreclosure response strategies, how would you characterize intermediate market strength? What do intermediately strong neighborhoods look like on the ground and what would their market indicators look like on paper?
Market strength can be measured by changes in lending volumes and mortgage amounts (from HMDA data) and local real estate data on sales as a percent of total listings. There are no established definitions of what is "intermediate." Research is needed in each metro areaq to identify reasonable boundaries bvetween the strong to weak categories.
However, on the ground, intermediat markets are those at the edge that might easily move up or down in market conditions. Talks with local realtors and watching for signs of a few vacancies in other wise well kept communities should be good clues to finding these places.
We know that housing instability causing school age children to move frequently contributes to poor educational attainment for these children. When that effect on individual children is multiplied in schools with high percentages of mobile students, some research seems to indicate that these schools have lower educational outcomes, e.g., lower standardized scores, lower graduation rates, and higher drop-out rates. Instability in the classroom because of highly mobile students even seems to be harmful to students who don’t move. Much public discussion seems to be focused on the potential negative impacts on public schools caused by decreased tax revenues. However, what is happening to public school outcomes due to the increased mobility caused by foreclosures and neighborhood instability? Is there any recent data on this?
As to the last part of this question, there is almost no direct evidence to this point so far. However, a promising new study should shed some light on it. The Open Society Institute is funding the Urban Institute and groups in New York, Baltimore and Washington DC to merge data bases with addresses of foreclosed properties and addresses of students in the school system; i.e., it will be possible to identify students who lived in the properties at the time of foreclosure and then use subsequent school records to see where they moved and other things that happened to them (e.g., how their grades changeds, whether there were disciplinary problems, etc.).
During the interviews you conducted with housing counselors and legal aide employees for the report, were you surprised by any of your findings about how families deal with foreclosure? If so what were you struck you as particularly interesting?
Are there any promising stories from the interviews about families overcoming their housing challenges via couseling/legal aide that could assist other non-profits or local governments in their approach to reach families at risk of foreclosure?
When we first spoke with housing counselors and others we were struck by how much they wanted answers about what was happening to families. They were on the front lines of the crisis and overwhelmened by the onslaught of people coming through their doors. For many, dealing with the presenting crisis was their focus and efforts to follow-up with families after they recieved services to find out what was going on was something for a "calmer" future. They were concerned about many families "on the edge" and what would happen to them in the long run. They were already talking about how some of these families would need comprehensive services to deal with multiple issues, For vulnerable households who might be broken up through foreclosure or see an outbreak of violence or other negative responses, they might need counseling and help beyond what a financial settlement or legal advice could bring.
The report notes the potential for renters of a foreclosed property to be sued if they do not leave the property once served the notice of eviction (p. 9). In many cases, the renters are given very little time to vacate the property, making it difficult to find stable, affordable housing to move to.
Do you know of any legal protections that can allow renters more time to find alternative housing or to remain in the property through the foreclosure process? Additionally, do you know of any legal protections that exist to either prevent renters from being sued or allow them to clear their record of lawsuits if they are forced to vacate the property in an unreasonably short amount of time?
Initially the forgotten victims in much of the discussion around foreclosure, renters have been receiving more attention recently. May 2009 saw the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 signed into law. The bill provides protections to renters including extending how long they can remain in a foreclosed property.