September 14, 10:58 AM Chicago Page One Examiner Robyn Monaghan

When reading the national news as it pertains to pre foreclosures and foreclosures, I always see articles on the effect foreclosures have on banks, realtors, businesses, animals, condition of houses etc etc. This article is the first article that really hit home with me. It discusses the effects foreclosures have on a new group of people known as ‘Generation F” or Generation Foreclosure.

Who are these people? They cant control what the banks do or don’t do. They had no input on what documents were signed or not signed. They can’t help when it comes to job loss. They have very little input as to how the family unit is run. Have you figured out who I am speaking about yet? Generation F is made up of all of the kids that are affected by foreclosures. I have (4) children myself that range in age from 2 years old to 12 years old. I can’t imagine the effect a foreclosure would have on them.

The facts are that more than 2500 kids per DAY are displaced as a result of a house that they are living in being foreclosed on by a lien holder. Many of these kids are displaced suddenly (at least to them) because there parents either failed to plan for another place to live after there house was foreclosed or just had no other place to go. Kids are ejected from their homes to live in far reaching places. What did they do to deserve this travesty? Nothing!

You may think that I am stating the obvious. Maybe so. What you should be asking is what you can do about this growing problem. Allot of it revolves around awareness. Be aware of what you can do to either eliminate the impact or lessen it. When working with folks that are in foreclosure, that have kids make sure that their eyes are wide open. Push them to plan (EARLY in the process) where they are going to move their family.

Many people are in denial and feel that the time will never come when they have to leave their home. Hopefully the time wont come meaning (the ultimate goal is to keep these families in their homes). If they can’t stay in their homes, make sure an attorney is looking after their best interest AND NO ONE ELSE’S! Make sure that they have a plan in place to move their family in a seamless manner. Most importantly, do your best to make sure they are considering the well being of the children.

Generation F: foreclosure may scar kids for years
September 14, 10:58 AMChicago Page One Examiner Robyn Monaghan

We used to worry about latch-key kids.

Now, with banks changing locks on 3,000 homes per day, families can feel fortunate if their kids still have a key that fits the front door.

We’ve heard about all we can handle about what the foreclosure crisis is doing to car sales, home values, the Dow Industrials and unemployment claims. But, experts and policy wonks are just beginning to fathom what being locked out will mean for its youngest and most vulnerable victims: our kids.

Dub them Generation F, for foreclosure. For them, the boogie man has morphed into the repo man.

“Experts tell us the lingering effects of foreclosure on the kids impacted by it and on our communities will remain for years after the economy goes from bust back to boom,” writes Chicago Parent Magazine Editor Tamara O’Shaughnessy, in a forward to this month’s cover story, a six-part investigative series “Locked Out.”

“That means the suffering of our children is only beginning.”

With the national average at .82 children per family, the ranks of Generation F swell by about 2,500 every day. There were 360,000 more of them in July, according RealtyTrac. By the time the recession winds down in 2010, people who earn a living studying child homelessness like Ellen Bassuk say upwards of 8 million kids will have been shown the door to their own homes.

“Children without homes are on the frontline of the nation’s economic crisis. These numbers will grow as home foreclosures continue to rise,” said Bassuk, president of the National Center on Family Homelessness and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Generation F
People who study kids and homelessness have a handle on how many kids don’t have a roof over their heads. But, they can’t yet tell how many of them wound up that way because their home was repossessed.

A 2009 Foundation for Child and Youth Well-Being predicts young people will suffer a hodgepodge of hitches from the bubble that burst this decade. Millions more kids will be living in poverty, losing health insurance, witnessing the domestic violence that comes with a family financial crisis and facing burgeoning crime spawning in boarded-up blocks.

At the same time, they’ll be switching schools, living in overcrowded households, and relying on public support systems weakened by anemic tax rolls, says Malcolm Bush, a researcher in low and middle-income communities at the University of Chicago.

In March, UC brought experts from around the country for a groundbreaking forum, “Children and Foreclosures: The Economic Crisis Hits Home.” As families vacate houses and property values dwindle in blocks around them, Bush says, the city coffers collect less tax money and have less to spend on violence prevention, youth programs and schools.

“These cuts have a direct impact on the health, education and protection, that immediately impacts kids,” he said.

Don’t take my kodachrome away

While the field of Generation F still is far from exact science, policy pros have enough facts to get the picture that losing a home isn’t the stuff of Kodak moments.

In fact, the repo man literally confiscated the kodachrome of Dawn and Audrey Tonkinson, two areas Chicago tweens. On the day the eviction company left its wordless memo to the Tonkinsons that time in their sprawling suburban home was up, it hauled away boxes of school art projects and CD’s loaded with pictures of dance recitals, swim meets, gymnastic competitions.

“That was the thing that was really hard on the girls,” said Stacey Tonkinson a 42-year-old elementary school teacher. “It was like they lost a portion of their memories.”

Tisha Canada still has her children’s stories about having no place to sleep and the drawings of sad stick figures that tipped off teachers that something was wrong after school. But don’t ask her to see them.

“I could never find them in a day,” she said. “They’re buried deep in a rented storage space.”

Canada, of Minneapolis, is among more than half of families displaced by foreclosure who find themselves on the streets because their landlord didn’t pay their mortgage.

She also puts a face on the pattern of doubling up.

New York urban policy expert Ingrid Gould Ellen reports a 35 percent spike in New York families checking into homeless shelters the same day the bank reclaimed their house. But workers at Chicago agencies say they’re not yet feeling the influx because families first go through a process of “doubling up,” a cycle of moving in with relatives, then friends, until problems like conflict, transportation, overcrowding, inevitably surface.

Studies show that stuffing in more than 1.5 people per room fosters disease and family violence, Bush said.

“Overcrowding doesn’t just have immediate health ramifications, but also ramifications of family stress and family violence,” he said.

It’s painless to rationalize that all these parents are getting kicked out of their homes because they busted their budgets and listened when lenders sold them a house of cards. It tougher to swallow a story of parents working hard to support their families, making decisions that worked one year and were doomed the next.

It’s even harder to blame the victim when we see a picture of kids packing their bedrooms into boxes.