There are currently over 118,000 homes in New Jersey in the process of foreclosure, one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Another 55,200 homeowners are at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgage (source: LPS Applied Analytics).
Over the past 3 years, the media has widely reported – and predicted — the damaging effects of foreclosures on the economy but they’ve largely ignored another consequence of foreclosures – an increase in homelessness.
Long-term national statistics on chronic homelessness mask the recent worsening problem of short-term homelessness. For example, research shows that significant investment in homeless intervention programs and the building of low cost subsidized housing has caused nation wide chronic homelessness to steadily declined since 2005 (source: Hud Awards Over $22 Million To New Jersey To Prevent & End Homelessness). At the same time, the number of newly homeless families has increased.
A significant percentage of homeless families have children, many under 5. The problems for children go well beyond the disruption of normal childhood activities. Research has shown that homeless children are, unsurprisingly, at increased risk of health & behavioral problems.
Can We Blame The Increase of Homeless Families on the Housing Crisis & Foreclosures?
Experts acknowledge that the risk factors for homelessness are not well understood. However, of the 5 most common reasons for short-term homelessness, unemployment and being unable to pay the rent/mortgage are the two main reasons. Add to this that the start of the increase in homeless families began around 3 years ago, in 2008, and this puts the blame squarely on the financial crash of late ‘08. Moreover, the homeless management Information System at HUD has studied the causes of homeless families and has estimated that more than 1,848,600 children in the U.S. will be directly impacted by the ongoing foreclosure crisis.
And the story is likely to get worse before it gets better: in the spring of 2011, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index declined for the first time since June 2010, and the Economic Cycle Research Institute, has predicted a global economic slowdown for the summer of 2011. The current economic slump seems bound to continue.
The take home message from all the available data is that, at least for the short term, we can expect the problem of foreclosures and family homelessness to remain unabated for the time being.
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Low Income Mortgage, Affordable Housing & Homelessness
During the peak of the housing bubble, purchasing a house was really out of reach for many people and even with house prices falling as much as they have (from the peak in 2006, 20 housing markets in the S&P/Case-Shiller index have decreased 32%), finding affordable housing is still a challenge for low income earners. Nevertheless, today is probably the best time now to buy a house.
RefinanceMortgageRates.org has published an online guide to help low income earners find and purchase affordable housing. They also offer information about how to find help and shelter if you suddenly find yourself homeless. Check out Low Income Mortgage, Affordable Housing & Homelessness.
Eva’s Village Responds to the Housing & Foreclosure Crisis
Prior to the economic crisis we planned an expansion of our homeless Shelter for Mothers and Children. In November of 2008 the Hope Residence for Mothers and Children opened increasing the number of mothers from 10 to 30 and number of children from 40 to 70. We anticipated that within a year we would be full to capacity however, because of the economic downturn we were full within months.
The good news is that the mothers living at Hope Residence receive counseling, treatment for addictions, job readiness training, financial guidance and parenting classes. Children receive counseling, school placement, an after-school program to help with homework, computer training, daycare and more.
In New Jersey 31% of all substance abuse admissions are female. At Hope Residence the families heal together with the goal of improving their emotional/behavioral well being and progression towards increased stability.