As bad as it is to lose your home, you shouldn’t lose your health along with it. But it seems like that’s what happening, according to new research from economists at Princeton and Georgia State.
They looked at foreclosure figures in California, Arizona, Florida, and New Jersey and found that, for every 100 new foreclosures, trips to the emergency room for high blood pressure go up by seven percent. Diabetes rates go up by eight percent. Both these diseases, which are stress-related, are major killers. And it’s not just people whose homes are being foreclosed on who are being affected. Neighbors’ health is suffering, too, as they see the value of their homes plummet.
The results are shocking but not surprising. Losing your job, your house, and everything you’ve tried to build for yourself and your family is frightening and awful. The stress is going to take a physical toll. The health damage also shouldn’t come as surprise to the CEO’s of Wall Street banks, which continue to gamble with people’s lives—and may pay out more in executive pay and bonuses than in federal taxes. Maybe they just don’t care about the people they’ve hurt.
It’s time for our regulators to acknowledge that the banks aren’t going to do the right thing on their own. They need to make them stop the foreclosures and offer affordable mortgages, make people whole, and return the equity stripped away from so many families.