Older Americans are struggling to keep their homes across the country, according to a new AARP report, with 1.5 million older homeowners who have already lost their homes and millions more at risk. The housing crisis is having a tough impact on them, and they’re the part of the population who are already among the worst positioned to deal with these problems.
The report also says older African Americans and Hispanics are dealing with the worst of it, reports the Associated Press.
“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.”
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.
In another quite troubling sign, the AARP says that in the last five years, the proportion of loans held by older Americans that are seriously delinquent increased by more than 450%. While homeowners younger than 50 do have a higher rate of serious delinquency than those older than them, the rate is increasing much faster for the older people in comparison to younger people.
Many older Americans trying to recover from the collapse of the housing market are having a tough time, as they live on fixed incomes, don’t have a lot of savings or have already gone through what retirement they had. Many don’t have working years left to shore up their finances, or can’t earn the same salary they did in the past.
Minorities over 50 have foreclosure rates that are almost double those faced by white borrowers their own age, which reflects a nationwide trend in the other age groups. In the group of older African Americans, 3.5% of those were in foreclosure at the end of 2011, with a 3.9% rate for Hispanics. Only 1.9% of white homeowners were in the same position.
The ones in the most trouble are those 75 or older — in 2007, one out of every 300 homeowners over 75 was in foreclosure. Now, it’s about one in 30.