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Report: Many Home Foreclosures in Illinois are a “Sickness”

October 13, 2008

Springfield, IL – Get sick, lose your house - it may be that simple. A study of mortgage foreclosures in Illinois and several other states shows many of the defaults have underlying medical reasons.

The Harvard University study includes a diverse group of people who lost their homes. Study author Christopher Robertson says almost half of them, even those with subprime loans, could make their mortgage payments - until big medical bills came along.

"People are taking out more debt as they own the house, in order to pay their medical bills. That's one really interesting problem we found."

Another Harvard study found one of every two bankruptcies in the United States is the result of medical expenses. Robertson says he's come to the conclusion that health care reform must be part of the national debate about rescuing the economy.

"Because this fits into a broader picture we're seeing of financial insecurity and medical crises, I think action is appropriate."

Illinois has been a foreclosure hot spot. The Cook County Sheriff recently stopped enforcing foreclosure evictions because he feels kicking people out of their homes, in some circumstances, is wrong. Many of those being evicted have been renters, who received no notice from landlords facing foreclosure. One lender however is suing the sheriff for his stance.

Read the Harvard study online, at works.bepress.com/cgi.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IL