Foreclosures and Renters in Washington, D.C.

Report by Peter Tatian
April 24, 2009

Urban–Greater DC   (Washington, D.C.)

We commissioned this report to look at the impact of foreclosures on renters in the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. Despite being at the center of a robust regional economy over the last decade, more than 35,000 children live in poverty, with the highest concentrations east of the Anacostia River. Since rental housing is an important resource for low-income families with children, we asked the Urban Institute to analyze the impact of foreclosures on renters in the city with a special look at neighborhoods east of the River which are home to large numbers of resilient but struggling families.

The report’s overall conclusion is that the increase in residential foreclosures is affecting both renters as well as homeowners across the city and East of the River. However, renters are not receiving the same kind of targeted assistance and protection from foreclosure as those who own homes. As a result, families who rent frequently find out that their home has gone into foreclosure when they receive an eviction notice, with little time to find new housing. Because they have lower savings, families who rent face financial hardships when they move – especially with short notice – and fewer resources to come up with security deposits and money for moving expenses. Finally, families with children are forced to find new daycare, school and healthcare services as well as new housing adding to the stress of an unexpected foreclosure.