Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Link Between Homelessness and Foreclosure

Last night I had the opportunity to meet with Sue Watlov Phillips, the Executive Director of Elim Transitional Housing in Minneapolis and co-author of a new report on the link between foreclosures and homelessness.

Sue has recently returned from Washington, D.C. where she presented the findings of the report "Foreclosure to Homelessness 2009 - The Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis" to leaders in Washington. The complete report can be found here.

The report was created using surveys completed between January 15th and February 21st by more than 175 organizations throughout the country that provide services to people experiencing homelessness. The report has determined that the nation’s homeless population has been directly impacted by foreclosure. More importantly, homelessness is likely to increase along with the number of foreclosures.

Nearly 80% of the respondents reported that at least some of their clients became homeless due to foreclosure.

Other facts from the findings include:

  • Those experiencing homelessness due to foreclosure tended to be renters – not owners.
  • Most of those facing homelessness because of foreclosure, whether renters or owners, did not seek legal advice in foreclosure proceedings.
  • The most common living situations among those made homeless by foreclosure included staying with family or friends and emergency shelters.

The 40-page report was released by the National Coalition for Homelessness in partnership with National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC), the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHC), the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness (NPACH).

Sue was also excited to share how the NLIHC and NHLP have created a toolkit for renters facing eviction due to foreclosure. The toolkit is available on the National Low-Income Housing Coalition website.

The toolkit includes a copy of the new federal law - which, with Sue's help, we are studying to see how, if at all, it affects Minnesota tenants. Minnesota law may actually give tenants MORE time than the Federal version - and Sue will be sharing her findings with us shortly.

The toolkit also includes explanations of the federal law's provisions, a question and answer document for tenants, sample letters to send to landlords, judges and public housing agencies and a webinar explaining the new law.

If you're a renter in Minnesota, and your landlord is facing foreclosure, DON'T PANIC. Minnesota State law protects you (assuming you've signed a lease) and there are local, non-profit tenant advocacy organizations that can work with you in YOUR situation. For more information, visit our website at:

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