Homeownership Symposium - Protecting Homeowners Post-Purchase: Lessons Learned from Engaging Distressed Homeowners

Mark Cole

HBTL-02: For most families, a central part of the American Dream has been the goal of homeownership. Consumer attitudes, public policy, and the private sector were all integrally involved in driving the rate of homeownership to a record high of 69% in 2004 . The prevailing opinion of the day was that homeownership was a sound economic investment, built stronger families and enriched community life. The Great Recession and lingering economic hardship afterward had a devastating effect on individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities across our nation. The combination of record numbers of unemployed and underemployed, foreclosures, significant drops in home values, and loss of retirement savings and investments made this a complex and difficult problem to try to solve. Personally, most people know the story of at least one friend, family, neighbor, or coworker who struggled through this recession. However, these individual stories were often drowned out due to the sheer numbers of people in trouble, reducing people caught in this crisis to a statistic and making it easy to lose sight that these were people trying to survive and do the right thing through one of the most challenging times we have seen in the past 60 + years. This paper will offer insights on individuals and families who sought help from housing counseling during this tumultuous period.