Where Families Go After Foreclosure

What's the connection between foreclosures and homelessness?

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It's a question that puzzles housing experts - where do families go when they face foreclosure? Do they become homeless?

Apparently, this is surprisingly difficult to answer. According to the Metrotrends blog writer Mary Cunningham, almost a quarter of families that entered homeless shelters in 2010 came directly from a home they owned or rented. But there's very little data on why these families had to leave their homes. And shelters are often the last stop on the "residential instability road." As Cunningham writes:

Families facing foreclosure may move into a rental unit or double up with friends or family first. If these situations become unsustainable for whatever reason, the next stop may be the shelter ... The answer is that a few families may be trickling into homeless shelters, but probably not immediately after foreclosure, and not on a wide scale. 

Here's a chart the illustrates where families lived before they entered a shelter according to HUD:

What can be done to relieve some housing instability? The Urban Institute has some good recommendations here.

Photo credit: Olivier Le Queinec /Shutterstock

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.