Foreclosures, Taking A Toll On Our Health
A new wave of home foreclosures is predicted to hit the U.S. One wonders what toll this resulting stress might play on Laguna Beach and its health?
According to Danielle Purcell, owner of Team Laguna, Laguna Beach currently has 56 homes in pre-foreclosure, 82 homes are up for auction and 51 homes are now bank owned. She says “I know we have hit the bottom but there are still a lot of modifications out there that will default.”
The National Bureau of Economic Research has found people residing in high-foreclosure areas were at higher risk of being hospitalized for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer coupled with a significant increase in the amount of related suicides.
On the other hand, these health conditions have been on the rise across the nation and cause many homeowners to fall ill, miss work and lose jobs making it difficult to pay their mortgage. Diminishing health and resulting medical bills caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies, 78% of which involved filers who were insured at the onset of their illness,
Such a ubiquitous correlation between health and foreclosures begs the question which came first, the medical bill or the foreclosure? They are simply two sides to the same coin.
Stress, in general, is natural but at times a biologically anachronistic response to a perceived threat. Cortisol, a hormone released during a perceived threat, is designed to curb functions not immediately necessary, such as our immune system, in a flight-or-flight situation. However, today’s fast paced life never allows us to shut that mechanism down causing havoc to our health. Add in an imminent foreclosure and one should feel justified in asking for help.
Current programs funded by federal grants intended to mitigate foreclosures are not addressing the elephant in the room. A comprehensive program should include health care providing both physical and mental support. And in this digital age, fewer dollars are needed in delivering this to the masses through webinars, tele-psychiatry and support group videoconferencing. But how could a nation already riddled with debt fund such an undertaking?
Last month, six former Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives were charged with “concealing the amount of risky mortgages” on the books, bringing the total incriminated in connection with the financial crisis to 45. Settlement negotiations with the Security and Exchange Commission should incorporate health care for the 4 million men and women currently locked into delinquent home loans now beginning to move to the auction block.
Until that day comes, those in need can turn to the private sector for a helping hand. The Laguna Beach Community Clinic (www.lbclinic.org) provides discounted medical and dental care to low-income and uninsured residents.
The internet of course is a sea of resources. Nearly free prescription medications may be found through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (www.pparx.org). For peripheral concerns, you can find discounted eye exams and glasses just by flashing your AAA card. Many private foundations also offer help with medical bills.
Danielle explains when assisting with the foreclosure process, she is often placed in a counselor role. In times of crises, mental health is often considered a last priority. Sites such as FreeMentalHealth.com may offer affordable and confidential support.
There is help not just for you but for your children as well. Those unwilling to take a chance with their family, can now find state subsidized coverage for kids through SCHIP, State Children’s Health Insurance Program (www.insurekidsnow.gov).
And why not look to ourselves? As many hard working homeowners head into another foreclosure storm, Laguna locals can take fiscal policy into our own hands and donate our abundant intellectual property to bring preventative health and financial education to neighbors in need. Share your knowledge at a local coffee shop. Write a blog and let Laguna know where to find you.
It’s time to be the change you want to see. What can you do to help your neighbor?
Laguna Beach resident Molly Morse is a holistic health therapist.