The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on homeowners and tenants aged 55 and over, according to the latest data from the US Census Bureau, and threatens some with foreclosure or eviction. Others reported that they had to go without essentials such as food and medicine to stay in their homes.
The Census Bureau’s bi-weekly Household Pulse Survey shows how households are doing during the pandemic on a near real-time basis. For the most recent poll, September 1-13, the Census Bureau estimated that approximately 1.7 million homeowners aged 55 or older were behind on their mortgage payments. Around 277,000 of those 55 or older considered foreclosure to be more likely or very likely.
Of the 6.4 million homeowners of all ages who were in arrears, about 1.1 million – 17 percent – were between the ages of 55 and 64. Kim Blanton, author of the Squared Away blog at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, notes that people in this age group have no social security benefits to fall back on. “If you lose your job, you don’t have a steady income,” says Blanton.
It is not only older homeowners who are confronted with the loss of their home: Another 188,700 adults aged 55 and over are in arrears with their rent payments and are threatened with eviction. In August, the Supreme Court lifted the September 2020 eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A July report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that most households living in their Mortgage payments three or more people live there. The latest census data reflected the same finding: 78 percent of households that were behind on mortgages had three or more people in the household. “Any foreclosure of older homeowners who live with 3 or more people will therefore not only displace the older homeowner, but often several generations who live in the same house,” says the CFPB report.
Many of those who say the very likely they will face foreclosure are people of color who have household incomes less than $ 25,000, census data shows. Although the CFPB report did not associate low income and racing with higher foreclosure rates, Blanton notes that many of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic tended to be lower-income people of color. The CFPB report finds that many older homeowners who are behind with their mortgage payments also struggle with paying for groceries and other expenses. Around a fifth of those questioned said that they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat during the week; nearly half received help from nonprofits and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for meals and groceries.