Foreclosure Crisis Hits Older Americans

It’s astounding to read the new AARP report about how some 5 million people age 50-plus lost their homes to foreclosure or remain at risk for that terrible ordeal.

In previous generations, people more often owned their homes outright when they finally settled into retirement. But in the last 20 years, a growing number of people are retiring with mortgage debt. Even people 75 and older, and living on a fixed income, are increasingly taking on mortgage debt and finding themselves in grave danger financially.

As the report points out, the foreclosure rate for people age 75 and up has been higher than for other groups of people over age 50.

No doubt, people of all ages suffered through the greatest recession and foreclosure mess this nation has seen in a half century. But fortunately for younger adults, they have the gift of time to work and rebuild assets. Older adults have far fewer years, if any, to work and accumulate savings that will carry them through their retirement years. At this late stage, many of them face a stark future that no one deserves after a lifetime of working and saving.

This AARP study is the first of its kind to examine the impact of the foreclosure crisis on the over-50 population. Its findings reveal a great American tragedy for people who lost what is often their most valuable asset at a time when they needed to rely on it the most.

Note: The AARP Foundation, a charitable affiliate of AARP, conducts foreclosure prevention outreach with plans to expand. Since 2010, the program has reached nearly half a million Americans age 50 and older who are fighting to save their home from foreclosure with information and resources. AARP Foundation Litigation continues its legal advocacy on behalf of older homeowners who may be facing foreclosure; see its housing docket here.

If you or someone you know has experienced a foreclosure, tell AARP your story.

Photo credit: Andrew Bain via flickr.com

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