From Foreclosure to Homelessness

By Dr. Chad Audi

This country has never seen anything like it before. The rate of home foreclosures in the nation has skyrocketed to record highs. This increase in foreclosures is resulting in more homeless families. Some of the displaced move in with relatives or friends and some take up residence in hotels, motels and other transitional housing. Others end up in emergency shelters or on the streets.

Ironically, some homeless individuals turn to foreclosed houses for shelter. In some cities, the number of vacant houses outnumbers the people living on the streets. Often, the foreclosed homes are in much better condition than dilapidated, abandoned houses and in some cases, the water, electricity and gas are still working. A 2009 report authored by a coalition of agencies that work with homeless populations outlines the impact of the foreclosure crisis in communities across the country by utilizing homeless survey data. Click here to read the entire report titled, “Foreclosures to Homelessness 2009: The Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis.”

On the flip side, the foreclosure crisis has resulted in a multitude of lower-priced homes. However, banks have tightened their credit requirements, preventing many people from securing mortgage loans. The result: an increase in the number of people becoming homeless.

Federal, state and local governments are attempting to combat the problem by providing funding to slow the foreclosure tide. The money is allocated in a variety of ways — to assist struggling families, create foreclosure counseling programs, prevent evictions, develop affordable housing, and more. Meanwhile, non-profit organizations that provide shelter and food for the homeless like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), are operating at overflow levels. We’re seeing people who were renting from homeowners who went into foreclosure, leaving the tenants without a place to live. We’re seeing low-income families who can’t afford to pay rising utility bills or maintain their homes. And we’re seeing people who are being turned away from relatives’ homes because of reduced household budgets and increased family responsibilities.

Our policy at DRMM is that we don’t turn anyone away. We make sure everyone who needs it gets a good night’s sleep, a nutritious meal, a soothing shower and decent clothing. We offer encouragement and prayer. Everyone deserves dignity and respect and a chance to live the American Dream.


1 Comment

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One response to “From Foreclosure to Homelessness

  1. Sandy Adell

    Thank you for your post about homelessness and the work your organization does. I visited the DRMM website and found the video testimonials inspiring. I was particularly inspired by Willie White because, although I was never homeless, my educational background was similar to the extent that I had no education beyond the ninth grade when I took a GED in 1971. I now am a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    I recently published a book that describes that journey from a GED to a PH.D. It’s titled, CONFESSIONS OF A SLOT MACHINE QUEEN: A MEMOIR. I describe my sudden and inexplicable addiction to slot machine gambling against my background as a young and uneducated teen mother living in Detroit during the 1960s.

    One of the reasons I hope this will be of interest to you and others at DRMM is that, although there are many factors that explain the high rate of homelessness in Detroit, including addictions, the three great big Goliath-like casinos hovering over the city’s center, certainly isn’t helping things.
    Yet, I hear very little vocal opposition to what the casinos are doing to the city. Please see my blog, “A Black Woman’s Reflections on Casino Gambling” (, and encourage others to take a look.


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