Monday, July 28, 2008

The Female Face of Foreclosure

This past Friday, the National Council of Women's Organizations sponsored a Congressional briefing focused on The Impact of Subprime Lending on Women.

Our own Ramsey Alwin, Director of the National Elder Economic Security Initiative, was a featured speaker at the briefing and here is an excerpt from the valuable information she shared:
Housing plays a unique role in the life of older Americans. It not only serves as shelter, but also provides a sense of comfort and security. Housing provides wealth to the approximately 80% of Americans 65+ who own their own homes. For many seniors, especially low-income seniors, the home is their sole asset and source of wealth. As the purchasing power of retirement benefits, such as Social Security, is eroded by the rising cost of basic goods and services, such an asset becomes critical in assuring economic security later in life. Given the current economic downturn, the phrase “asset rich and cash poor” is an increasingly accurate descriptor of aging communities nationwide, particularly among those who own their own homes. Regardless of an elder’s financial status, housing figures prominently in a resident’s quality of life, and it can influence a person’s physical independence and ability to participate in community life. Housing is a basic building block of a livable community in which an elder can age in place with dignity.

The subprime mortgage crisis and the subsequent foreclosure flurry have crushed the bedrock of economic security for elders – homeownership.

Lifetime financial security and homeownership is a cornerstone of the American dream: if you work hard and follow the rules, you will be able to retire to your own home without financial worries. Yet, women who do just that continue to find themselves more likely to age into poverty than men. This is especially so for women of color. The cumulative effects of pay inequity, occupational segregation in low-wage jobs, and work place policies that do not honor or acknowledge caregiving responsibilities find older women with fewer resources upon retirement. This latest subprime crisis only further compounds this injustice.

For more information, Please view the fact sheet: Older Women and the Impact of Housing Status on Economic Security

Comments please: Has the economic well-being of older women in your family or in your community suffered because of the mortgage crisis?

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