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Smallest Victims of the Foreclosure Crisis: Children in the District of Columbia

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Document date: August 31, 2010
Released online: September 20, 2010


As foreclosures have been sweeping the nation in the past few years, the effect of the crisis on children tends to be overlooked. In this brief, the first of two, we discuss foreclosure trends as they relate to public school students living in Washington, D.C. between 2003 and 2008. In particular, we describe the demographic makeup of the students affected, the type of housing and neighborhoods in which they live, and the schools they attend. We conclude with recommendations for both the housing and education sectors in mitigating this crisis as the number of foreclosures continues to rise.

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Foreclosures have been sweeping the nation in the past few years, with federal policy and local jurisdictions focusing much attention on the sheer numbers of homes being lost to foreclosure as they attempt to stem the tide. However, little research has been directed on what happens to families after foreclosure and, in particular, how the foreclosure crisis affects children.

In 2008, researchers estimated that, as families lost their homes to foreclosures on subprime loans, 2 million children living in owner-occupied housing would be affected (Lovell and Isaacs 2008). Since the foreclosure crisis worsened due to the national recession and spread into the prime market over the past two years, the number of children affected will also increase beyond this estimate.

The Open Society Institute and the Foundation to Promote Open Society funded three research organizations from the National Neighborhood Indicator Partnership (NNIP) to explore how foreclosures have affected children in individual cities. This brief focuses on the foreclosure trends and impact on children living in Washington, D.C., between 2003 and 2008. We hypothesize that the rapid increase in the number of homes that are in the process of foreclosure and have completed foreclosure (i.e., lost to the lender) during the past few years will in turn affect more families with children in the District, leading to additional residential instability. If informed, agencies, advocates, and providers in the housing and education fields can attempt to minimize the negative effects of these disruptive moves.

This report, the first in a series of three, answers the following research questions:

  • How many public school children have foreclosures affected in the District of Columbia and how has the number changed over time?
  • What are the demographic characteristics of the school children affected by foreclosure and have they changed over time?
  • Are the affected school children clustered in particular neighborhoods or schools?

In the first section, we describe the D.C. housing market and trends in foreclosures for all households in the District; in the second section, we focus on households with public school students going through foreclosure; and in the final section, we discuss the implications of our findings for housing and education providers and agencies.

(End of excerpt. The full report is available in PDF format.)

Topics/Tags: | Poverty, Assets and Safety Net | Washington D.C. Region

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