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Emerging public health crisis linked to mortgage default and foreclosure
Date:10/20/2011

Baltimore, MD Oct. 20, 2011. Researchers warn of a looming health crisis in the wake of rising mortgage delinquencies and home foreclosures. The study, released today in the American Journal of Public Health, is the first long-term survey of the impact the current housing crisis is having on older Americans. The study focused on adults over 50 and found high rates of depression among those behind in their mortgage payments and a higher likelihood of making unhealthy financial tradeoffs regarding food and needed prescription medications.

"More than a quarter of people in mortgage default or foreclosure are over 50," says the study's principal investigator, Dawn E. Alley, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "For an older person with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension, the types of health problems we saw are short term consequences of falling behind on a mortgage that could have long-run implications for that person's health."

The study was prompted in part by the rapid rise in foreclosure rates that began in 2007 following a dramatic increase in subprime lending. By 2009, 2.21 percent of all homes in the United States, a total of more than 2.8 million properties, were in some stage of foreclosure. Previous research had shown that home ownership is associated with better health while financial strain is associated with worse health and higher death rates.

"This study has pinpointed an issue that until now has been somewhat under the radar, but which threatens to become a major public health crisis if not addressed," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Through research such as this, faculty epidemiologists and public health specialists provide valuable information and perspectives that are useful for gov
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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