WAPO – Foreclosure Takes Toll on Increasing Number of Children

Washington Post Staff Writer


Three years into the mortgage crisis, the public debate over how to stem the unprecedented tide of foreclosures and the damage they are doing to the housing market has largely overshadowed any discussion of the human toll. But researchers have begun to examine what happens to people after they lose their homes and are becoming especially concerned about the harm done to childrenThe number of children displaced has been climbing steadily in recent years, with nearly 40 percent of U.S. school districts surveyed citing foreclosure as the top reason for the surge in homeless students, according to a report this summer by First Focus and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

Children who are forcibly uprooted from their homes and schools tend to suffer emotionally, socially and academically, studies preceding the mortgage meltdown show. Researchers suspect the same might be happening with children who have been dragged through foreclosure and are urgently exploring the consequences.

“This foreclosure crisis is the largest forced relocation event we’ve had in this country since the Great Depression. In the modern educational environment, we’ve never seen anything come close to this,” said Dan Immergluck, a housing policy professor at the Georgia Tech.

Susan Brooking never imagined her family would get tangled up in a mortgage crisis when she and her husband, Robert Brooking Jr., started building a home just north of Charlottesville nine years ago.

But the family’s finances collapsed after her husband was laid off from his job working for a home builder in early 2008. In August, the couple received a foreclosure notice and moved out a few weeks later, soon after their 5-year-old son, Connor, began kindergarten.

Susan Brooking settled in at her sister’s house with Connor and his 19-month-old brother. Her husband lives nearby with his parents. Neither home was large enough to accommodate the family, but the arrangement enabled them to stay close to Connor’s school.

“My son keeps asking why, why, why at every step,” Susan Brooking said. Why did they have to move? Why can’t he visit his bedroom at the old house? Why are his toys in storage? Why do they have to live apart? Why did he have to leave behind the playground that he and his father had just started building?

“Now he’s acting up in class,” she said. “All we think about is renting a house in the same school district so we can get some normalcy back into our lives. We don’t want to deal with another school and another transition.”

Mindy Thiel, a private therapist in Rockville, said she’s seen more and more families in the same situation over the past two years. Their kids often express a “feeling of powerlessness,” she said. “Even 5-year-olds conceptually get the idea of loss, and they get extremely sad and frustrated that they can’t do anything to change the situation.”

The longer the foreclosure process drags on, for years in some cases, the more likely children are to lapse into hopelessness and internalize feelings of insecurity that can linger into adulthood, she said.

“They’re wondering where their next home, their next school, their next set of friends are going to be,” Thiel said. “A poignant issue that’s often overlooked is: ‘Where will my dog go? What will happen to my fish or my rabbit?’ … It changes their world view.”

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9 Responses to “WAPO – Foreclosure Takes Toll on Increasing Number of Children”
  1. RAMONA says:

    With local banks there was a time if you were having difficulties making your mortgage they would take what you had a gave you time to catch up. With TOO BIG TO FAIL, its ..you have most of the mortgage but may be missing 20% you get a letter in the mail payup or we will send the money you paid back to you. this isthe first payment lacking,with that the TOO BIG TO FAIL BANK puts the homeowner in foreclosure. TOO BIG TO FAIL? TEAR THEM DOWN! The only thing that will happen is our small community banks will stop closing and re-open to help their community!!

  2. PJ says:

    Very, very sad. We had a neighbor commit suicide a month ago…marital stress due to loss of income resulting in divorce, underwater house, very very sad that so many are suffering in silence. Have to disagree with houseman, we are a nation of good people and at this time we need to reach out to our neighbors and communities at large.We can not and should not define ourselves as a nation based on the hannous actions of the few. We are on the eve of Thanksgiving, be thankful and give! Let the creeps know that we will not foresake our neighbors… this is the best lesson we can teach our children… that we are not defined by what we have but who we are and what we do.

    • RAMONA says:

      soon all will know someone who has commited suicide over this mess . you are right PJ we need to reach out to our neighbors and comunnities who are suffering .

  3. J A says:

    I know exactly what this article is describing. My son was 18 when we lost our home to foreclosure after I fought off the bank in court for 11 months. He is now 21 and was just getting his life back together, doing well in college even, when his father my exhusband, committed suicide because of his own financial troubles. We live in dark times indeed when it takes our government THIS long to only begin realizing the impact on human lives it has to lose your home.

    We actually lost our home twice — the home I owned to foreclosure in June 2008 after being only 3 months late on my payments, and then a year later, in June 2009, we had to move out of the home we had rented because of the landlord’s pending foreclosure. The second time is what truly broke us. I also lost my main source of income at the same time we were having to move out of the rental house at the end of the 12-month lease, and with nothing else that I could do, I donated a houseful of furniture, most of it to Habitat for Humanity and some to other family members to hang onto for me.

    I spent almost a year living with my mother in another state while my son lived in a dorm for one semester and then lived with his dad last spring…when his dad then committed suicide.

    It has all just been too too hard and horrible, and we are such damaged goods. In many respects we will never be the same.

    • RAMONA says:

      the goverment does not care about the impact

      • ilouie says:

        The Gov does not give a fuck about the people. When is this country going to wake up and get rid of ALL the politicians that are bringing this country down. Liberalism has caused the biggest problem in this country.

  4. kravitz says:

    “The big banks insist that they have to be big in order to provide the services that their corporate clients demand. “We are in one hundred and fifty-nine countries,” Vikram Pandit told me. “Companies need us because they are going global, too. They have cash-management needs all around the world. They have capital-market needs all around the world. We can meet those needs.””

    “Many banks believe that trading is too lucrative a business to stop, and they are trying to persuade government officials to enforce the Dodd-Frank bill in the loosest possible way.”

    What Good Is Wall Street?


  5. housemanrob says:

    THIS IS DISGUSTING, SHAMEFUL AND INHUMAN! I no longer want to hear how great……..and proud we are. FACE IT! WE ARE PEASANTS IN A BANANA REPUBLIC! These foreclosures should have been stopped a long time ago. The judges, repeatedly allow absurd evidence where plaintiffs ask “will this evidence be alright, your honor? All the courts should long ago have said….”wait a minute, this is ridiculous, what is going on here”?

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