“The New Suburban Homeless: How Foreclosures and the Great Recession have Impacted American Families,” an event held by the New America Foundation on April 5, highlighted the struggles of newly homeless families in the suburbs of the United States. The event was a discussion centered on “The Weeklies,” an article written by Monica Potts of The American Prospect. Participants in the discussion included Ms. Potts; Janis Bowdler, Economic Policy Director at the National Council of La Raza; and Reid Cramer, the Asset Program Director of the New America Foundation.
Ms. Potts began by briefly discussing her article, a chronicle of the challenges faced by two separate families that had become homeless as a result of a combination of an inability to afford rent and the impact of predatory lending practices. The discussion ensued with a description of tight rental markets, the lack of supply of affordable housing, and the need for government resources dedicated to those in need. Ms. Potts stated that in Jefferson County, Colorado, where the chronicled families reside, the Housing Choice Voucher waiting list is 2,500 households long, with only 30-40 spots opening up in any given year. The increased resources needed to serve the formerly stable new homeless families “drains resources for those most in need,” according to Ms. Bowdler.
The speakers also discussed tenants’ lack of understanding about their rights when a landlord goes into foreclosure. The federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) ensures that most renters have the right to at least 90 days’ notice before being required to move after the property they live in is foreclosed on. The law is set to expire at the end of 2014 unless extended by Congress. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are expected to soon reintroduce legislation to remove to sunset date altogether and add a private right of action to the law. NLIHC has endorsed the forthcoming legislation.
No formal policy recommendations were made by the speakers.