Florida Tops List for Number of Foreclosures
By Christina Sturgis
Florida is first in an undesirable competition – the number of foreclosures, which can take terrible toll on Tampa families and communities.
One of every 409 Florida homes is in foreclosure, as of the end of 2013. According to the report by RealtyTrac, the other top states for foreclosures are Maryland, with one in 487; Illinois with one in 605; Nevada with one in 677; and Utah with one in 718.
Foreclosure has a devastating effect on residents, some of whom begin a downward spiral that could eventually lead to homelessness, according to a report by the Urban Institute. Initially, residents respond to foreclosure by renting a dwelling or moving in with friends or relatives. However, the foreclosure damages the household’s credit rating, which can hamper efforts to secure housing and employment.
The very young and very old are least able to weather the storm of a forced relocation, the report states. Children often find the move to a new school difficult and the elderly suffer from separation from old friends and cherished activities. Shared living arrangements can be stressful as well. Communities lose when foreclosure occurs because of lost tax revenue, declining property values, lapses in property maintenance and increasing crime.
Shannon Nazworth, chairwoman of the Florida Council on Homelessness, said she knows of no study directly correlating foreclosures and homelessness, but said foreclosure can set off a chain of negative events that is devastating to families, especially children.
“Anecdotally, we are aware of renters who lost their homes when their landlords were foreclosed upon,” she said.
“Those cases were very difficult because the tenants had no advance warning, and because people who rent often have lower incomes.”
According to the annual counts, Florida’s homeless population has declined about 25 percent to about 45,000 since 2007, yet remains second only to California in the nationwide count. Nazworth said some reductions are due to the federal government’s efforts to find housing for homeless veterans. Figures from the January 2014 homeless count were not yet available.
Of Florida’s entire population, about 6 percent is homeless, according to the annual count. Maryland, however, is second place for foreclosures but estimates about 2 percent of its population is homeless, including about 3,000 people in Baltimore.