Housing and Opportunity: A Closer Look

For many, buying one’s first house is a major milestone, both financially and symbolically. The ownership of a home has traditionally led families towards long-term wealth, and a home is the foundation of the American dream, an accomplishment and a source of pride. Unfortunately, despite some talk of an improvement in the economy, there are still various factors preventing many people from realizing this dream.

—Although the foreclosure rate declined for the third straight month in October—decreasing by 3% between September and October 2009 to one in every 385 housing units—this rate is an increase of nearly 19% from October 2008. (footnote: 1)
—In September, 7.7% of all homeowners were behind 30 days or more on their primary-residence mortgages, up about 0.1% since August. This is a record rate comparing to the 5.2% rate of September 2008 and the 3.6% rate of September 2007. (footnote: 2)
—Nearly 4.4% of payments on bankcard accounts were at least 60 days late, compared to 3.4% in September 2008. This is a 28.7% increase since September 2008. (footnote: 3)

With foreclosure rates higher now than in recent memory, and families struggling to make mortgage and credit payments, homeownership dreams are slowly slipping from people’s fingers. Americans first need secure, good jobs to raise them to the level of economic security that they feel ready financially, to purchase a home. Yet, with unemployment rates continuing to hit striking levels, it is getting increasingly harder for many to reach that much-needed state of security.

—The unemployment rate was higher in October than it has been in over 25 years. (footnote: 4)
As of October 2009, 15.7 million people were unemployed, putting the overall unemployment rate at 10.2%, which is 0.4 percentage points higher than September’s rate: the highest rate since April 1983. (footnote: 5)
—Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has more than doubled, increasing by 8.2 million people and the unemployment rate has doubled, rising 5.3 percentage points. (footnote: 6)
—Men were more likely to be unemployed than women in September, 10.7% for adult males as compared to 8.1% for adult females. (footnote: 7)

Let’s not waver in the face of all this hardship. Instead, let’s work with this period of change and take it as an opportunity to move forward and make sure our friends and neighbors who have been historically marginalized are not left behind again.

Thank you to Meredith King Ledford for her research assistance. Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

1. "Foreclosure Activity Slows for the Third Straight Month," RealtyTrac, Inc. November 11, 2009, accessed on
November 14, 2009 at http://www.realtytrac.com/contentmanagem ent/pressrelease.aspx?channelid=9&ac cnt=0&itemid=7856.
2. "Consumer Savings Higher as Debt Declines; Mortgage Delinquencies, Bankruptcies Continue to Grow in September" PR Newsire release the Equifax October Credit Report, October 13, 2009 accessed on November 14, 2009 at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ consumer-savings-higher-as-debt-declines -mortgage-delinquencies-bankruptcies-con tinue-to-grow-in-september-64081967.html .

  1. ibid.
  2. The Employment Situation: October 2009," The Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 6, 2009, accessed on November 14, 2009 at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.n
  1. ibid.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid.

Tags: foreclosure, housing, Opportunity, unemployment (all tags)


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