Foreclosure Rise Linked to Crime, Anxiety and Suicide

Foreclosure Rise Linked to Crime, Anxiety and Suicide

Financial problems are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when discussing the negative impacts of foreclosures on a community.

The foreclosure epidemic in the United States has created a financial debacle for millions of homeowners. Many of them have been forced to move out of their home because they cannot pay their mortgage payments and their options for finding another place to live become narrower once this happens. Many homeowners simply walk away from their mortgage, but the damage to their credit history is huge when they make this decision. But financial problems aren’t the only thing that foreclosures are causing.

Recent reports show that foreclosures are actually causing an increase in crime in the areas where there are many vacant homes. When there are several foreclosures in an area, it affects more than just the families who have moved out of their homes and the lenders who provided the mortgage loan for those families. It affects the entire neighborhood. Vacant homes are a haven for breeding crime. Dan Immergluck with Georgia Tech says that once there are just two or three foreclosures on a block, there are several negative effects that begin to happen in that neighborhood. Crime is one of those negative effects. According to his study, an increase of 2.8 percent in foreclosures in an area corresponded to a 6.7 percent increase in violent crime.

But crime isn’t the only spillover effect that occurs where there are foreclosures. In addition to that, studies have shown an increase of anxiety and suicide attempts. According to the numbers, there is a 30 percent increase in a given zip code for every 100 foreclosures that occur in that area. The stress of making a mortgage payment once a homeowner has lost their job or their income has been significantly reduced can have a damaging effect on their psyche and their health. In some cases, this stress becomes more than a person can bear emotionally which leads some of them to commit suicide as they see no other way out of their financial difficulties. Last year, a southern California father killed his five children, his wife and then himself because he lost his job and his home and he didn’t see any other solution to the problem. Stories like this abound as foreclosure rates continue to climb.

These problems beg the following question: Could lawmakers and government officials use the tragedies of violent crimes and suicides to politicize programs and policies designed to help with the foreclosure crisis? With more than 15 million Americans behind in their mortgage payments and an increase of 14 percent of default notices in the last quarter, it is obvious that the plans and programs that were supposed to help the situation have failed to some extent. With the increase of suicide, violent crimes and other negative impacts on communities and neighborhoods, it seems like the urgency of effective help for troubled homeowners is at an all-time high.

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Image: Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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