One out of every 25 kids in New York State has been directly affected by foreclosures, a new study reports. That’s better than the national average, which is about one in 14 kids – but with a larger total population, the problem in New York is simply bigger than in many other states. For instance, there are 171,000 kids affected, compared with hard-hit Nevada’s 121,000 kids.
The report ---- “The Ongoing Impact of Foreclosures on Children” ---- is the second one released by the nonprofit children's advocacy group First Focus on the foreclosure crisis’ impact on children and families. This brief updates the author’s 2008 estimate that nationally, 2 million children in owner-occupied homes would be immediately affected by the foreclosure crisis. There are more than 3 million kids in owner-occupied homes at immediate risk of future foreclosure, the report says.
Carol Yopp of the Long Island Housing Partnership says the effects of the problem touch every part of a child’s life. “The first is, of course, the stress in the family,” she says. Parents are less able to provide a supportive environment to their kids in times of financial hardship. One of the biggest stressors for kids is being displaced from their home, and, consequently, their school. “They can lose friends, their religious training, just by having to leave the premises. The far-reaching effects are damaging to the whole family unit.”
Parents may be able to minimize some of these effects, she says. For instance, “the parents can try and rent a property,” says Yopp. “If they’re foreclosed and they have to vacate, they try to stay in the neighborhood so the education isn’t disrupted.” There are local agencies that offer rental assistance, such as Long Island Housing Services in Bohemia, she says.
Many agencies are struggling with funding, she says. But people in need may be able to piece together a support system to help protect the displaced child’s physical and emotional well-being. Since a foreclosure tends to go hand in hand with financial hardship, Yopp advises making the Department of Social Services the first stop for assistance with food stamps and medical coverage. Other agencies she recommends include the Salvation Army, United Way, the Family Service League, the Long Island Council of Churches and Catholic Charities.