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Survey: Recession Affects Seep Across MI Demographics

January 12, 2009

Lansing, MI – The nation's economic slowdown is affecting people of all ages -- including seniors. A new AARP survey of those in the 45-plus set shows one-third are worried about making rent or mortgage payments in the coming year. In addition, about half of the survey respondents say they don't know if they'll be able to pay their health care bills. While the recession has hit working families hard, the survey documents that it's also taking a toll on older Americans.

AARP Michigan interim State Director Jacqueline Morrison says the research also indicates what people expect from the federal government in this recession.

"Between 70 percent and 83 percent say they think the government should help people who have lost their jobs and health insurance, and help those who are facing foreclosure."

Morrison says that help can range from expanding federal health insurance offerings to legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges discretion to modify mortgage debt so more Michiganians in foreclosure could keep their homes. Those ideas have foes who warn about increasing the federal deficit, and those who say giving judges more power would further harm mortgage companies.

The survey results help explain why United Way has seen a 100 percent increase in the number of older residents calling for help with basic needs such as housing and food, according to Morrison. She says while "economic recovery" packages are being crafted, "people issues" need to go hand-in-hand with any recovery plan put on the table.

"We need solutions, in terms of where we need to focus to bring the most relief to people, and to help turn the country around."

The full survey results are available at www.aarp.org/aarp/presscenter.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MI