Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

In 2008, Aileen Eriksen -- a Burbank, Wash. mother of six – wanted to maintain a stable home for her family.

“Especially when you have kids, it’s important to know that they have a secure place that they can call home — to be able to say, ‘We’re going home now’ and know where that home is,” said Eriksen.

But Eriksen was in trouble with her mortgage. Health bills for one of her children and a recent separation from her husband collapsed her finances.

Eriksen was not alone in her concern over how losing her home might harm her kids. A recent report shows a big, scary word – foreclosure – may ultimately impact as many as 8 million children nationwide. The report about the emotional toll foreclosures have on children surfaced this month. So says a story posted by MSNBC.com:

“Children are the often invisible victims of the foreclosure crisis,” said the author of the report Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution. “Foreclosure affects not just the homeowner or landlord, but also the children living in the foreclosed properties.”

Isaacs says children suffer when they move unexpectedly and switch schools mid-year. Switching schools, she says, can lead to lower levels of math and reading achievement, which can lead to students dropping out of high school. Isaacs report breaks down the numbers. Out of the 8 million affected children, 2.3 million have already lost their homes; three million more are still at risk of losing their homes, and another 3 million have been evicted or face eviction from rental properties undergoing foreclosure.

What is the situation for children in the state of Washington?

According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation (PDF), since 2007, 68,000 Washington state children lived in homes in which owners received foreclosure notices. There are also nearly 170,000 children living with at least one parent who is unemployed.

How is the state of Washington helping children and their families?

Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is a leader in holding mortgage companies accountable. He helped lead a settlement with the nation’s five biggest lenders over the way borrowers are treated. A federal judge recently formalized the $25 billion mortgage settlement. McKenna’s office played a large role in the negotiations and worked with the federal government and all 50 states to see the deal done and help people stay in their homes.

Under Attorney General McKenna, the Attorney General’s Office also helped negotiate billions in other settlements with banks involved in mortgage lending, including Wells Fargo/Wachovia/Golden West/World Savings BankBank of America/CountrywideAmeriquest, and Household Financial. McKenna’s Consumer Protection Division has also brought civil suits against several businesses and individuals that promised to help save homes from foreclosure (for a fee) but then failed to do so.

Aileen Eriksen – the mom listed at the beginning of this blog – was able to work out new loan terms by speaking with a housing counselor. To learn more about how to handle potential foreclosure, be sure to read these tips. You may also find a list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies .

-Sophia Reza-







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