WASHINGTON, DC-The mortgage crisis is affecting more than just single family home owners. A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that renter-occupied dwellings comprise close to half of the total number of properties in foreclosure in four New England states. The report is called Properties, Units, and Tenure in the Foreclosure Crisis: An Initial Analysis of Properties at the End of the Foreclosure Process in New England.

Between Jan. 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008, a total of 14,993 residential properties in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire had fallen into the foreclosure process, the report said. Of these, 32% were multi-unit properties. Thus, of the 23,440 separate housing units that were in advanced stages of foreclosure, 56% were in multi-unit properties. Using the most conservative assumptions–all of the single family homes were occupied by homeowners and all of the owners of the multi-unit properties live on site in one of the units–NLIHC concluded that at least 45% of the housing units in foreclosure were renter-occupied in these four states. More than likely, given the likelihood that some of the single family homes are occupied by rents and some of the multifamily apartments are investment properties, the true number is probably higher.

Danilo Pelletiere, research director, tells GlobeSt.com that the findings are not surprising. “We always said the foreclosure crisis is also a housing crisis.” Policymakers need to incorporate these findings into larger strategies for the affordable housing problem, he adds.

“The interests of renters are getting lost in the policy debate in Washington, while the interests of lenders, investors, home builders, and homeowners are commanding Congressional attention,” Sheila Crowley, NLIHC president, says in a prepared statement. “Foreclosure usually means eviction for renters. Because renters as a group have lower incomes than homeowners and because most renters who are evicted due to foreclosure never get their security deposits back, they face a period of housing instability at the very least and many are at risk of homelessness.”

Policy prescriptions the organization is advocating include:

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