National Home Ownership Month celebrates the benefits of home ownership for families, communities and economies nationwide. But what often isn’t discussed is when home ownership fails. Foreclosures have negative impacts that not only affect the health of homeowners, but also that of their overall communities. A 2015 analysis of studies examining the link between foreclosures and physical and mental health showed that a predominance of research establishes that the foreclosure process does indeed make people sicker. Another study estimates that foreclosures can impact overall health in a community, with every additional foreclosure in a ZIP code leading to more non-elective hospital or emergency room visits over the next year. Since foreclosures are often highly concentrated in certain neighborhoods, children living in or near foreclosed homes may suffer from the consequences of living in neighborhoods with more vacant houses, higher crime rates, lower social cohesion and a lower tax base.
To combat these negative effects, the NC Housing Finance Agency has helped more than 45,000 North Carolinians through the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund and State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project. Funds for the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund are limited, so July 31 will be the last day for applications to be submitted to the Agency. The State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project, however, will continue to be available to help homeowners at risk of losing their homes with free counseling, assistance working with servicers and access to legal services for homeowners with lower incomes.