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The Human Cost of Foreclosure

Updated: May 16


An article in the Washington Post, “What Gets Left Behind,” talks about one side of the human cost when a house goes to foreclosure. As the owner of a company that cleans out foreclosed homes, Troy Hughes notes:

I remember that kid’s balloon was still inflated, like someone had just had a birthday party. That what kills, me, the things the children had to leave behind. Sometimes, their crayon pictures are on the wall. A lot of toys are in the closet…It’s traumatic.

It was too traumatic for one woman in Massachusetts. She faxed a note to her mortgage company saying, “By the time you foreclose on my house, I’ll be dead.” As this ABC News story sadly relates, 53-year-old Carlene Balderrama of Taunton, Massachusetts, fatally shot herself with her husband’s rifle shortly before the foreclosure.


Nadine Kaslow, chief psychologist at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and a professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine, said such financial stresses come attached with significant psychological consequences.

There is no question that the economic downturn in our country is causing havoc with people’s mental health,” she noted. “It is very depressing to lose one’s home. It represents loss of stability, a feeling of failure.…It is scary and overwhelming.

But it’s not the end:

Once you find out that foreclosure is not a sign of personal failure, that it is not anything that is happening to nobody else … there’s hope.

And given the numbers, it’s happening to a lot of people. According to Forbes, millions of homeowners are likely to fall more than three months behind on their mortgages, with some scenarios showing worse numbers than during the housing crisis of 2008.


There is a way out – a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 11 gives you the chance to catch up on missed mortgage payments over 5 years. And even if you can’t, a Chapter 7 will delay the foreclosure to give you some time, let you wipe out any arrearages and deficiency and start over with a clean slate.

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