◊ Portland Housing Crisis and How To Solve It presented by Susan Emmons, Executive Director NW Pilot Project
◊ Nightmare on Main Street: Older Americans and the Mortgage Market Crisis from AARP Public Policy Institute
Nightmare on Main Street: Older Americans and the Mortgage Market Crisis by Lori A. Trawinski, Ph.D., CFP® AARP Public Policy Institute
This is the first study to measure the progression of the mortgage crisis and its effect on people age 50 and older. Based on an analysis of nationwide loan-level data provided by CoreLogic for the years 2007 through 2011, this study examines loan performance based on borrower age, loan type, and borrower demographics. The study shows that no age group, race, or ethnicity has been spared from the effects of declining home values and the financial difficulties caused by the Great Recession and continuing economic weakness.
Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than three million are at risk of losing their homes. Although the serious delinquency rate of the under-50 population is higher than that of the over-50 population, the increase in the rate of serious delinquency of older Americans has outpaced that of younger homeowners from 2007 to 2011. 1 As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security.
As of December 2011, approximately 3.5 million loans of people age 50+ were underwater—meaning homeowners owe more than their home is worth, so they have no equity; 600,000 loans of people age 50+ were in foreclosure, and another 625,000 loans were 90 or more days delinquent. From 2007 to 2011, more than 1.5 million older Americans lost their homes as a result of the mortgage crisis.
To date, public policy programs designed to stem the progression of the foreclosure crisis have been inadequate, and programs that focus on the needs of older Americans are needed.
- Among people age 50+, the percentage of loans that are seriously delinquent increased 456 percent during the five-year period, from 1.1 percent in 2007 to 6.0 percent in 2011. As of December 2011, 16 percent of loans of the 50+ population were underwater.
- Serious delinquency rates of borrowers age 50–64 and 75+ are higher than those of the 65–74 age group. People in the 75+ age group are facing increasing mortgage and property tax expenditures and decreasing average incomes. Serious delinquency rates of the <50 population are higher than those of the 50+ population.
- Of mortgage borrowers age 50+, middle-income borrowers have borne the brunt of the foreclosure crisis. Borrowers with incomes ranging from $50,000 to $124,999 accounted for 53 percent of foreclosures of the 50+ population in 2011. Borrowers with incomes below $50,000 accounted for 32 percent.
- The foreclosure rate on prime loans of the 50+ population increased to 2.3 percent in 2011, 23 times higher than the rate of 0.1 percent in 2007. The foreclosure rate on subprime loans of the 50+ population increased from 2.3 percent in 2007 to 12.9 percent in 2011, a nearly sixfold increase over the five-year period.
- African American and Hispanic borrowers age 50+ had foreclosure rates of 3.5 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, on prime loans in 2011, double the foreclosure rate of 1.9 percent for white borrowers in 2011.
- Since 2008, Hispanics have had the highest foreclosure rate on subprime loans among the 50+ population—14.1 percent in 2011. African Americans age 50+ had the highest foreclosure rate in 2007. White borrowers age 50+ had the lowest subprime foreclosure rate until 2010, when their rate was slightly higher than that of African Americans and remained higher in 2011.
- One-quarter of subprime loans of borrowers age 50+ were seriously delinquent as of December 2011.
- More policy solutions are needed to assist all homeowners, particularly older Americans. Policy solutions that should be considered include: principal reduction loan modifications; mediation programs; more access to housing counseling and legal
AARP’s Public Policy Institute informs and stimulates public debate on the issues we face as we age. Through research, analysis and dialogue with the nation’s leading experts, PPI promotes development of sound, creative policies to address our common need for economic security, health care, and quality of life.
The views expressed herein are for information, debate, and discussion, and do not necessarily represent official policies of AARP.
Reprinting with permission only
AARP Public Policy Institute
601 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20049
Elders in Action wants to recognize a program that has trained thousands of community members who deal with older adults or adults with disabilities to identify people in those groups who may need help, that is marking its 25th anniversary.
The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners heard on March 13 how the Gatekeeper program since its inception in 1987 has trained an estimated 28,000 people to spot vulnerable people and to connect those people to help.
Among the people trained as Gatekeepers are utility employees, bank personnel, public employees, apartment and mobile home managers, letter carriers, police, firefighters, paramedics, Native American elders, neighbors and church members.
Those Gatekeepers in turn have made about 450 referrals per year of older adults and people with disabilities who may need help and support.
“We train people to watch for warning signs,’’ Aging and Disability Services program manager Paul Iarrobino said at the board presentation. “Our services are available 24-7. You call one phone number and we’re going to get that call where it needs to go.”
That phone number is 503-988-3646.
“They can make just one phone call and take just a few minutes out of their day,” Gatekeepers program coordinator Lynn Schemmer-Valleau said of participants. “In some cases you can literally save a life.”
Several of the program’s community partners also attested to the program’s value in helping to learn about older customers who are struggling, then connecting them with services they need.
Among the examples they cited was an instance in which an elderly widow called to report a power outage only to learn her PGE bills had gone unpaid because her late husband had been the one to pay the bills.
In that case with PGE’s help, the Gatekeeper program helped her to pay her bills and get service restored, said Cheri Hansen, who works in customer resources at PGE.
In another instance, branch officials at a US Bank realized after talking to an elderly woman who frequented their branch that she was in fact afraid to go home because a foster child was taking advantage of her financially after he returned from jail.
In that instance, with US Bank’s help, Gatekeepers helped the woman contact relatives to assist her and to return her abuser to jail, said Brad Crawford, manager of the US Bank branch on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard.
“We keep an eye out for the more vulnerable,” said James Cook, president of Branch 82 of the National Association of Letter Carriers–whose members know to spot warning signs like mail piling up for a customer. “The Gatekeeper program allows us to instantly make a phone call.”
County Commissioner Judy Shiprack said the program is especially important given that an estimated 84 percent of elder abuse cases go unreported.
And Shiprack added that the program exemplifies a county theme in which the county is a convener in collaboration with a community eager to carry out efforts that benefit the community.
“We have a community,” she said, “that wants to help.”
From New York Times New Old Age February 16, 2012:
Credit these folks with a shrewd slogan. The National Council on Aging and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging are kicking off a campaign to nudzh older people into taking advantage of programs they could qualify for but don’t apply for.
We’re talking about things like reduced-cost drugs, food stamps, home care aides, transportation programs. Help with heating bills. Subsidies that lower Medicare premiums. The council analyzed a random sampling of 1,100 older adults or caregivers who’d used its BenefitsCheckUp Web site since 2010 and determined that more than 70 percent were eligible for at least one benefit they weren’t receiving.
So the council and the association are printing up thousands of booklets to be distributed through local agencies on aging and putting notices up on their Web sites and others. The slogan? “You Gave, Now Save.”
“We hope it helps get by that natural bias that this is a handout,” Sandy Markwood, C.E.O. of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, explained in an interview. “Especially with the older old, they don’t want to take what they consider ‘welfare.’ They’d rather do without.” The slogan makes the point that old people have been contributors, that “in some cases, these are programs people have invested in throughout their working lives.”
The campaign directs older adults and their caregivers to two information sources, both of which we’ve discussed here before. The Eldercare Locator makes more sense for those without computer skills, because inquirers can talk to a live person at 800-677-1116. The Locator is also online atwww.eldercare.gov. The National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp site is Web-only atwww.benefitscheckup.org. Both tailor their responses to an individual’s geographic location, income, veteran status and other such factors.
That matters, because programs for old people are, frankly, a confusing hodgepodge. Some benefits are the same across the country, but many vary by state or even county. Programs may be available to all, or they may involve varying income guidelines.
Older people can’t qualify for certain benefits unless their annual income is at or below the federal poverty level, which last year was a meager $10,890. (About 9 percent of those over age 60 are that poor.) But in many states, the elderly can earn up to twice that amount and still qualify for S.N.A.P., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. food stamps.
State pharmaceutical programs have similarly varying requirements. If you live in Maryland, for instance, you can qualify for subsidized prescriptions even with an annual income up to $32,670, three times the poverty level. Other states use other numbers.
“The goal is to move to a one-stop, no-wrong-door approach, but we’re just not there yet,” Ms. Markwood said. “You really do need a tool or a system to navigate this.”
Those tools already exist — the Eldercare Locator gets 150,000 calls a year, and almost a quarter of a million people completed a BenefitsCheckUp screening last year. But these resources remain underused.
More than 60 percent of the BenefitsCheckUp sample were eligible for food stamps but weren’t getting them. What could be more basic, at any age, than having enough to eat?
As my Aunt Minnie used to say, you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Paula Span is the author of “When the Time Comes: Families With Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.”
For the New Old Age Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/tracking-down-government-aid/
Our Encore Action Team on Hidden Hunger: Food Insecurities Among Our Elders have completed our arc of service learning projects to highten the awareness of senior hunger in our community and what efforts are being done to alleviate the situation. Over the last two months, we have attended the Portland Food Summit, worked the kitchen at Loaves & Fishes, served meals at Neighborhood House, and gleaned the Hollywood Farmers Market to provide fresh, organic to seniors at the Hollywood Senior Center. By far our favorite project was Bob’s Garden.
Bob’s Garden brought together a varied group of volunteers and community partners tackle the issues of senior nutrition and isolation. Elders in Action partnered with the Hollywood Senior Center , Multnomah County Aging & Disability Services, Portland Nursery, and Tokyo Electron Ltd. and planted a garden to grow fresh organic produce to be used in meals and food boxes at local senior centers this summer.
The site of the community garden is the front yard of “Bob”, an elder who loves to garden but is no longer physically able to do the intense work of urban farming. Bob is happy to provide local gardeners a place to utilize their skills while providing nutritious food alternatives to the elder population in Multnomah County. An important goal of Bob’s Garden is to promote intergenerational communities and to improve neighborhood socialization for older adults like Bob who want to live independently in their homes.
Today, over six million seniors nationwide face the threat of hunger; they are starving. The number is quickly growing. In Oregon, recent studies regarding our older adult population have found that we are 29th in the nation with over 5% of our seniors experiencing hunger. Helping to end hunger among older adults is the first priority of Elders in Action’s Encore Action Teams. This summer, Elders in Action and community partners will tackle the issues surrounding food insecurity for older adults in the Portland metro area with several other future projects.
For the schedule of Encore Action Team projects and to find out how you can help, call Mark Noonan at 503-235-5474, email him at email@example.com, or visit the Elders in Action website at www.eldersinaction.org.