Report: Nevada 1st in kids affected by foreclosure |

Report: Nevada 1st in kids affected by foreclosure

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Nearly one in five children in Nevada is affected by foreclosure, the highest rate in the nation, according to a report released Wednesday by a national children’s advocacy group.

In all, 7 percent of the nation’s children, or more than 8 million youths, are struggling with the housing crisis, according to the report by First Focus in Washington, D.C. Of those, 2.3 million have already lost their homes and 3 million children have been evicted or face eviction from rental properties in foreclosure. The rest are at risk of their family being evicted or foreclosed upon soon.

The report indicates that the mortgage crisis is still hurting families more than five years after the housing market collapse created massive unemployment and financial problems across the nation. It urges policymakers to improve access to mortgage refinancing and provide public schools with funding to help homeless students, among other recommendations.

“What this really shows is that there is still this enormous number of kids who are still in this status,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “Even when the family gets their feet back on the ground, the kid has fallen behind on a lot of things and will never catch up.”

Children in families facing financial and psychological stress often are at greater risk of dropping out of school, getting pregnant as a teenager or doing poorly in school compared to their peers, according to the report. Housing instability may also contribute to physical and mental health problems.

“We never really had a foreclosure crisis like this,” said Julia Isaacs, who authored the report while working for the Brookings Institution, a research organization based in Washington, D.C. “What we do know is poverty has long-term ramifications for children. We know that switching schools does have long-term ramifications for children.”

As a result of its findings, First Focus is also calling on Congress to protect Medicaid and free food programs for low-income children.

California had the greatest number of children affected by foreclosures – nearly 1.1 million youths, or 12 percent. In contrast, 19 percent of children, or 121,000, were affected in Nevada, which also has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The rates in Florida, Arizona, Michigan and other states hit hard by the housing crisis followed closely behind Nevada. Alaska and North Dakota had the lowest rates, with 2 percent of children affected by foreclosures.