Foreclosure crisis hits older Americans hard

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The issue has become so dire in Rep. Elijah Cummings‘ Maryland district that he has assigned one of his 20 staffers to work full time to help struggling homeowners, and his office holds regular foreclosure prevention workshops. He said the federal government can do its part by promoting principal reduction and loan modification programs.

“These are people who in many instances have never missed a payment in 20 years,” Cummings, a Democrat, said in an interview. “You see grown men crying because of the potential loss of a home.”

Among older homeowners, those who are 75 or older are in the worst shape when it comes to foreclosures, the report showed. In 2007, one out of every 300 homeowners 75 or older was in foreclosure. Five years later, about one in 30 face that same fate.

Many of those oldest homeowners may have lost income they were counting on, such as the retirement benefits of a deceased spouse. In the meantime, their mortgage payments have stayed the same.

The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, AARP officials predicted, because of a housing market that is recovering at a snail’s pace.

“This crisis is far from over,” Whitman said. “We need to think about more creative solutions now that we have this data.”

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