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

ernment and private policy makers as they work to meet the health and economic needs of Americans."

The researchers examined data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of Americans older than age 50. In 2008, 2,474 participants were asked if they had fallen more than two months behind on mortgage payments since 2006. The survey included questions designed to measure psychological impairment, general health status and access to important health-relevant resources. In predicting these health outcomes, researchers controlled for demographic factors, health behaviors, chronic diseases, sources of debt and annual household income.

Among participants who were mortgage delinquent, 22 percent developed elevated depressive symptoms over the two-year period compared to only three percent of non-delinquent respondents. Twenty-eight percent of mortgage-delinquent participants reported food insecurity compared to four percent in the non-delinquent group. In addition, the delinquent group reported much higher levels of cost-related medication non-adherence (32 percent compared to five percent).

The study also found that lower-income and minority homeowners were at higher risk for mortgage default. "Our results suggest that the housing crisis may be making health disparities worse," says Dr. Alley, "because these groups had poorer health, lower incomes and higher levels of debt even before the current mortgage crisis." The researchers note that it will likely take decades for African American and Hispanic communities to recover the wealth lost during the housing crisis and that minority communities are disproportionately affected by declining home values and lost tax revenue.

The study began just as mortgage delinquencies and subsequent home foreclosures began to rise in the United States, driven mainly by increases in mortgage payments related to adjustable rate loans. Dr. Alley says the health pic
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Contact: Bill Seiler
bseiler@umm.edu
410-328-8919
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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