Foreclosures and Tax Liens

Access resources as well as courts to help address local and regional challenges in the mortgage markets and local communities.

Foreclosure Resources

Court Records by State

Foreclosures are still having a substantial impact on the U.S. housing market. However, programs by federal agencies (including the Homebuyer Tax Credit), as well as depressed prices have chipped away at foreclosed inventories.

Displaced Residents Struggle to Find Shelter

When thousands of people are losing their homes, where do they move? According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, "76% of displaced homeowners and renters are moving in with relatives and friends. About 54% are moving to emergency shelters. About 40% are already on the streets. Nearly 61% of local and state homeless coalitions say they've seen a rise in homelessness since the crisis began in 2007."16 Communities are losing invaluable local leaders and social capital from the relocation of residents.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that 928 homeless adults in Michigan listed "foreclosure" as one of the top two reasons for their homelessness in 2007. The number in the first quarter of 2008 was 217% higher than in the first quarter of 2006.

Many previous homeowners turn to renting when their homes are foreclosed. The increased demand for rental properties has caused prices to rise.Victims are having a tough time both paying and qualifying for the rental housing due to their damaged credit scores.

Also, many of the foreclosed properties nationwide are multiunit buildings. "60% of the 15,000 filings in New York City last year were on multi-unit buildings," reports the Furman Center.19 Landlords of these buildings are having a tough time paying off the banks and consequently they lose the properties. In turn, families are forced out on the streets with very little notice. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, "5,000 families have been evicted from their rental homes in the last 18 months in Nevada."

In the suburbs of Los Angeles a tent city of more than 200 displaced residents has emerged. High rent payments leave many people with no other option than to pitch a tent or live out of their car in settlements like this. "Amenities are basic as well, with no electricity, no plumbing, and no drainage. Also, there is nowhere to prepare or store food, apart from makeshift tables in the open air." Lack of plumbing and refrigeration can cause health risks such as poor hygiene and unsanitary foods.

In "foreclosure epicenter cities" like Cleveland, residents are moving out for good. More people left Cleveland last year than any other major city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2000, only hurricane-ravaged New Orleans weathered a sharper rate of population loss. The combination of job loss, devaluation of property and foreclosure are driving people to get a fresh start somewhere else.

Minorities Are Impacted Disproportionately

Although all ethnic groups have been affected by foreclosure and subprime lending, minority communities have been hit particularly hard. According to a 2008 report by the nonprofit policy center United for a Fair Economy, "the foreclosure crisis will result in the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in recent U.S. history." The report estimates that "black borrowers will lose between $71 billion and $122 billion, while Hispanic borrowers will lose between $76 billion and $129 billion (Rivera 2008)."

Unfortunately, many minority and poor communities do not have the same resources or options as more affluent areas, such as access to prime lenders. Countless numbers of people were pushed into subprime loans, even though they could have qualified for better prime loans. "When the Federal Reserve Board analyzed the most recent pricing data, researchers found that, in 2006, 53.7% of blacks, 46.6% of Hispanics, and 17.7% of whites received high-priced loans. In minority areas 46.6% obtained high-priced loans compared to 21.7% in white communities (Avery et al. 2007)." The Woodstock Institute out of Chicago, Illinois, found that the foreclosure rate in Chicago's highminority neighborhoods was 2.5 times the regional rate.

Another reason for the hard strike on minority communities is the disproportionate amount of wealth assets. "While African Americans and Hispanics earn approximately two-thirds as much as whites, wealth holdings for the typical nonwhite family are approximately one-tenth that of the typical white family (Shapiro 2004; National Community Reinvestment Coalition and Woodstock Institute 2006)." Therefore, if a minority family goes into foreclosure, they lose proportionately much more of their wealth than a richer family.