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.