WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1.5 million older Americans already have lost their homes, with millions more at risk as the national housing crisis takes its toll on those who are among the worst positioned to weather the storm, a new AARP report says.
Older African Americans and Hispanics are the hardest hit.
"The Great Recession has been brutal for many older Americans," said Debra Whitman, AARP's policy chief. "This shows that home ownership doesn't guarantee financial security later in life."
Even working two jobs hasn't been enough to allow Jewel Lewis-Hall, 57, to make her monthly mortgage payments on time. Her husband has made little money since being laid off from his job at a farmer's market, and Lewis-Hall said her salary as a school cook falls short of what she needs to make the payments on her home in Washington.
Lewis-Hall and her husband have been making their payments late for about a year, but panic didn't set in until recently, when the word "foreclosure" showed up in a letter from the bank.
"You're used to living a certain way, but one thing leads to another," Lewis-Hall said. "It's not like I have a new car or anything. I'm driving one from 1991."
According to AARP:
—About 600,000 people who are 50 years or older Americans are in foreclosure.
—About 625,000 in the same age group are at least three months behind on their mortgages.
—About 3.5 million — 16 percent of older homeowners — are underwater, meaning the home value has gone down and homeowner now owe more than their homes are worth.
AARP said that over the past five years, the proportion of loans held by older Americans that are seriously delinquent jumped by more than 450 percent.
Homeowners who are younger than 50 have a higher rate of serious delinquency than their older counterparts. But the rate is increasing at a faster pace for older Americans than for younger ones, according to AARP's analysis of more than 17 million mortgages.
Americans who are 50 or older are hard-pressed to recover from the collapse of the housing market that started in 2006 and was compounded by the recession that started in 2007. Eight in 10 of them own homes, but many live on fixed incomes, have little savings or have already burned through much of their retirement savings. They also have fewer working years left to build back what they may have lost.
And those who are forced to re-enter the workforce often find they can't command the same salary that they did in the past.
Older minorities are facing foreclosure rates that are almost double those faced by white borrowers of the same age, mirroring a nationwide trend seen in other age groups as well. Among older African Americans, 3.5 percent were in foreclosure at the end of 2011, and the rate was 3.9 percent for Hispanics. Just 1.9 percent of white homeowners were in foreclosure.
The issue has become so dire in Rep. Elijah Cummings' Maryland district that he has assigned one of his 20 staffers to work fulltime to help struggling homeowners, and his office holds regular foreclosure prevention workshops. He said the federal government can do its part by promoting principal reduction and loan modification programs.
"These are people who in many instances have never missed a payment in 20 years," Cummings, a Democrat, said in an interview. "You see grown men crying because of the potential loss of a home."
Among older homeowners, those who are 75 or older are in the worst shape when it comes to foreclosures, the report showed. In 2007, one out of every 300 homeowners 75 or older was in foreclosure. Five years later, about one in 30 face that same fate.
Many of those oldest homeowners may have lost income they were counting on, such as the retirement benefits of a deceased spouse. In the meantime, their mortgage payments have stayed the same.
The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, AARP officials predicted, because of a housing market that is recovering at a snail's pace.
"This crisis is far from over," Whitman said. "We need to think about more creative solutions now that we have this data."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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