According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, approximately 553,000 people experience homelessness on a single night in the United States. While there are various factors that can lead to homelessness, foreclosure and eviction are among the primary causes. Unfortunately, some people have felt so helpless and desperate when faced with the possibility of losing their homes that they have resorted to suicide. This report will detail some of the cases of suicide related to foreclosure and eviction in the United States.
One such case is that of Carlene Balderrama from California. In 2011, Balderrama’s husband passed away, leaving her with a significant amount of debt. She subsequently fell behind on her mortgage payments and eventually received an eviction notice. Despite her efforts to secure a loan modification and other forms of assistance, Balderrama was ultimately unable to save her home. She took her own life on the day that she was scheduled to be evicted.
Similarly, in 2013, a 64-year-old retired police officer named Harry Thomas from Virginia was facing foreclosure on his home. Thomas had invested his life savings into the property and was unable to keep up with the mortgage payments after suffering a stroke. Despite his efforts to negotiate with the bank, he was unable to save his home and ultimately chose to take his own life rather than face eviction.
These cases, while tragic, are not isolated incidents. A study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health found a significant correlation between foreclosure rates and suicide rates in the United States. The study found that between 2005 and 2010, there were approximately 10,000 additional suicides in the United States as a result of the housing crisis and subsequent foreclosures.
The emotional toll of foreclosure and eviction can be overwhelming, and the stigma associated with losing one’s home can compound the problem. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed when faced with the prospect of losing their homes, and the lack of affordable housing options only exacerbates the problem.
While there are resources available to those facing foreclosure or eviction, many people are unaware of their options or are unable to access the necessary assistance. It is crucial that we work towards creating a society where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, and where people are not forced to choose between their homes and their lives.
Foreclosure evictions can be a devastating experience for homeowners in the United States. Losing a home, often the most significant investment a person makes, can have long-lasting impacts on mental and physical health. In some cases, homeowners facing foreclosure have taken drastic measures, including committing suicide. This report will explore some additional instances of these tragic cases.
- Carlene Balderrama – In 2009, Carlene Balderrama and her husband lost their home in San Bernardino, California, to foreclosure. Balderrama had been battling depression and anxiety, and the foreclosure only exacerbated her mental health issues. On the day of the eviction, she shot and killed herself outside the home.
- Joseph Zangaro – In 2016, Joseph Zangaro was the county administrator for Berrien County, Michigan. He had been working to prevent the foreclosure of his home, but ultimately lost the battle. On the day of the eviction, a disgruntled former employee entered the county courthouse and fatally shot Zangaro and another courthouse employee before being killed by police.
- Jacqueline Barber – In 2012, Jacqueline Barber was facing eviction from her Atlanta, Georgia, home after falling behind on her mortgage payments. She suffered from heart problems and diabetes and was on oxygen at the time of the eviction. The stress of losing her home caused her to have a heart attack and die before the eviction could take place.
- Addie Polk – In 2008, Addie Polk, a 90-year-old woman in Akron, Ohio, was facing foreclosure on her home. She had fallen behind on her mortgage payments due to medical bills and the declining value of her home. On the day of the eviction, she shot herself in the chest. Although she survived, her story gained national attention and highlighted the devastating impact of foreclosure on older Americans.
These tragic cases demonstrate the profound emotional toll of foreclosure evictions on homeowners. While it is essential to ensure the stability of the housing market and protect lenders’ interests, policymakers must also prioritize the well-being of homeowners and provide resources to prevent foreclosures and support those facing eviction.
- CNN. (2009, October 7). Evicted woman kills self outside foreclosed home. https://www.cnn.com/2009/US/10/07/california.foreclosure.shooting/index.html
- The Guardian. (2016, July 12). Michigan courthouse shooting: county official Joseph Zangaro among dead. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/12/michigan-courthouse-shooting-berrien-county-official-joseph-zangaro
- NPR. (2012, November 28). Jacqueline Barber, Who Shot Herself Before Being Evicted, Dies. https://www.npr.org/2012/11/28/166106243/jacqueline-barber-who-shot-herself-before-being-evicted-dies
- NPR. (2008, October 4). Addie Polk, 90-Year-Old Facing Foreclosure, Shoots Herself. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95442857
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