A Looming American Crisis
As the widespread economic fallout of the coronavirus continues to impact the financial health of everyday Americans, many homeowners and renters find themselves in desperate need of help. By the start of May, close to four million borrowers were already in either government or bank forbearance programs, choosing to delay their mortgage payments for at least ninety days. This number represents seven point three percent of all active mortgages. This mortgage forbearance program along with a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions was all part of the ninety day Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, commonly referred to by its acronym CARES. Law offices are already indicating that they have a backlog of hundreds and possibly thousands of evictions ready to be filed when the states lift the restriction on filing in August. And while some of the thirty-five million unemployed have regained employment as the nation learns to work through the pandemic of the century, most remain unemployed.
Without a solution in sight, many who were already forced to live paycheck to paycheck, a pandemic that continues to linger, an economy hampered by border closures and a continuing trade war, and partisan politics stymying efforts to bring relief to a suffering populous, America faces a looming housing crisis that could leave millions homeless. Are we looking at a repeat of the two-thousand-eight housing crisis or worse? Can we expect a wave of foreclosures with Christmas and the New Year? Are you prepared or are you preparing for your own or someone you know’s homlessness?
In this blog we will examine many of your options when faced with the threat of homelessness. Even if your house is completely paid off, disasters can still sometimes force you to have to leave your safe home. And even though you may be secure, your neighbor, friend, family member, or loved one may face the very real threat of homlessness.
Many colleges identify major threats to student learning as shelter and food insecurity. Shelter insecurity is all around us and isn’t as typical as a few people panhandling or living under a bridge. It’s hard for us to accept the possibility of our homelessness or the reality of homelessness for those we know. Being homeless doesn’t make a person a loser or a freeloader. Most people, at some point in their lives suffer setbacks and may not have anyone in their life to turn to. There are options and things you should know should you or someone you know face the very real threat of homlessness. So, let’s look at what you need to know for yourself and others in this looming crisis…
Eviction culminates with the Sheriff showing up at your door and forcing you to leave the premises. Before you or someone you know reaches this point, there are things that can be done. When the notice arrives, and in most states it must be posted at the premises and mailed as well, immediately begin exploring your options. Can you get into a new rental? Can you take on a roommate or two to reduce your costs and catch up in rent payments? Can you borrow from family or friends or move in with family or friends? In some states filing for bankruptcy can stop an eviction process but only if it hasn’t gotten too far into the process.
Whatever you do, don’t run from your problem or dismiss it and wait for the day they come to put you out on the streets. If you start immediately, you may find several legal means to fight the eviction. There may be local government, religious, or non-profit housing assistance or advocacy programs. Everyday you gain brings you one step closer to getting back on your feet. Do your research the minute your housing becomes threatened. If you wait until the day that law enforcement comes to enforce a court order, you may find yourself on the streets with too many possessions to fit into your car, forced to live in your car, or in a local homeless shelter. Plan ahead to be prepared. Have those conversations with family and friends and let them know you are struggling. They may provide you with options or assistance.
In the weeks before the police show-up to escort you off your property have a sale of anything you won’t be able to take with you. The TV, gaming system, bike, blender, coffee maker and other possessions will no longer be as useful to you as your cash liquidity. Tell yourself you can get your possessions back again when you are back on your feet, and you can. You will probably not be able to raise enough to get caught up on rent, and you may not want to in order to pursue other options, but having the cash on hand can get you moving safely in a new direction in life.
If you have a mortgage, consider selling your home early while you still can and downsizing to a condo or townhome. Possibly risk the tax burden and hold onto the money and rent until things get better for you and the country. If you live in an area where housing prices are high but you’re no longer tied to the area through employment, now might be the time to move to a different state where any equity can set you up in twice the house with half the cost of living. I am not a financial consultant, and I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the housing market; but you will want to weigh your finances carefully and consider the tax risks of buying a less expensive property, cashing out investments, or borrowing against retirement funds. Just don’t try and hold on to the old lifestyle. Your circumstances have changed and you need to rapidly redefine your surroundings. Sell possessions and property you don’t need and prepare for the next chapter of your life. You may find that defaulting on your credit cards, declaring bankruptcy, or holding onto whatever money you have left is a better option than trying to hold on to a present life that is untenable.
We take for granted how easily we can Google any answer to any question we may have, but what will you do when your cell service and internet service are gone? If you are facing a potential homeless situation, learn in advance what you will need to survive. In the days and weeks before you find yourself out on the streets and really if there is even a remote chance you might find yourself out in the cold, research and know where the shelters are in your area. Where are the food banks? What government, church, or non-profit charity resources are available to you and your loved ones.
Brush up on your camping and survival skills in case you are forced to find a location to camp for an extended period of time. Consider all your options for temporarily or permanently relocating. Maybe the city isn’t the right place for you anymore, but your sister or cousin in the suburbs can let you live for a time at their house. If you are wrong and you make it through a temporary setback without ending up homeless, you will be armed with knowledge you can use to help others in your community.
Consider all your options and rate them from the best option to the worst option. Obviously, living in a tent or under a tarp is the absolute worst option, but maybe there are things in-between that will allow you to buy enough time to get back on your feet. Make the effort to write all your options down, rate them from best to worst, then research each option so you have a range of possibilities and broad knowledge of solutions and remedies for whichever circumstance you find yourself. Create a checklist of items you will need or still need. What are the items common to all options? Those are the ones you need to be able to take with you or acquire with whatever limited funds you have. If you have been prepping for a long time, you are probably well on your way. If you are new to prepping, you will need to do some research, explore the videos on this channel and find out what you need to know to survive other disasters where you may find yourself without shelter. The more you know about what you face and how to overcome it, the more likely you are to make it through.
So much of survival is mental. It is easy to feel like a failure in life or ashamed of the circumstances you find yourself suffering through. You have to keep your head about you. Hopefully, this will be the worst thing you suffer through in your lifetime, but keeping positive by knowing that lives do turnaround will keep you moving strongly in the right direction. In rough times we try to remind ourselves that we are not the first person to suffer through what we face. We remind ourselves that others have suffered more through the same or worse. And we remind ourselves that we don’t suffer alone. In this looming housing crisis, there may be millions suffering right along with you and also competing for any available resources.
Realize that your personal security needs are heightened when you don’t have the passive protection of walls and fences. You will need to keep safe without the walls of a home protecting you. You will need to discover new ways to get food and water, to stay dry and protected from the elements; but your struggle will make you stronger and more resilient in the long run. Often we try and do everything right but still find ourselves in trying times and troubling circumstances. We prepare for the worst we can think of and face even worse than what we can imagine. You will need to develop a mental toughness. Remember that your great grandparents may have suffered through two world wars, a pandemic of their own, and a great depression. They made it, raised children of their own who eventually brought you to where you are at today. Throughout history, people have persevered through horrible tragedies and lived to see brighter days that they appreciated with greater gratitude. You can too. Don’t lose heart. Don’t lose faith. Develop the mental toughness to make it through to the brighter days.
If you are set and will make it through any housing crisis just fine, is there something you can do to help others. The sooner we can get people off the streets and back to work the sooner we can recover as an economy. If homelessness is a possibility for you, what do you have that you will not be able to keep that might help others. Helping others is the way we help ourselves. Even if your help is not fiscal or a tangible good, giving of your time to help others can lift your spirits and your community up. It also helps you to see with clear eyes how bad things may actually be without relying upon the media to tell the whole story.
After any crisis, be they economic, natural, or manmade, we have to rebuild. We do that individually and together. Of course you need to take care of yourself and the needs of your loved ones first, but sometimes we can spread what we have to others, share what we have with others, and build a network that raises many people up. Prepping supplies we can’t take with us and we can’t sell, maybe able to help someone in more desperate need than we are. Know what you have in your physical, mental, and spiritual reserves to help and give to others. Together we rise and together we fall.
Finally, know what others may be going through. As people struggle to find a safe place to stay, they may cross your path or pass through your community. Remember your compassionate heart, and understand that sometimes even if a person plays the cards perfectly right, life could have still dealt them a losing hand. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy or a loser, and maybe there is the opportunity for you to be the ray of light they need in their lives right now. Maybe you can be the tiny ripple of hope they need to carry them through.
With the CARES Act ending and no comprehensive plan on the horizon, with looming evictions waiting to be filed, and mortgages remaining unpaid, America could be facing a housing crisis worse than what we endured in two-thousand and eight. Thousands or hundreds of thousands may find themselves forced to live on the streets, migrating to secure opportunities or housing elsewhere, or simply struggling to hold on to their shelter security.
If you find yourself possibly being one of those facing homelessness, don’t delay or postpone your actions. Know your eviction options. Unload the things you will not need and increase your cash liquidity. Don’t try to hold on so much to the present that you fail to plan a future. Learn what you need to know. Keep your head about you, and keep your spirits up knowing that things will get better. And always look for opportunities to raise yourself up by helping others. Some do not have a network of family or friends they can rely upon, and others are blessed to have such a network. Through any disaster many suffer, and a homeless crisis is no different.
As always, stay safe out there.