The United States of Debt

America’s Foreclosure Crisis Is Far From Over. So Why Don’t We Hear About It?

Millions have lost their homes. They’re still in debt today.

Donald Curby walks on his home block on a block in East Baltimore which has been mostly abandoned, September 19, 2016.
An eviction team removes furniture during a home foreclosure on Sept. 21, 2011, in Longmont, Colorado.

John Moore/Getty Images

This article supplements the United States of Debt, our third Slate Academy. Please join Slate’s Helaine Olen as she explores the reality of owing money in America. To learn more and to enroll, visit

Owning a house is a cornerstone of the American Dream. But in the wake of the housing crash and foreclosure crisis, millions of Americans lost their homes.

And people are still wrestling with the fallout of the crisis today.

In this fifth episode of the United States of Debt, a Slate Academy, host Helaine Olen explores the depth of America’s housing crisis. Why did so many people lose their homes to foreclosure? Who was responsible for the crisis anyway—individual home owners or bigger institutions? And if the crisis is still happening, why do we hear so little about it?


Also—why were blacks and other minorities hit worse than others?

Slate Plus members, hear the episode here. Non-members, listen to this special preview of the United States of Debt, Episode 5, below.

To get access to the rest of the episode, plus a transcript, other supplemental articles, and bonus segments, visit

Meet our subjects from Episode 5:

  • Cherie, 62, bought a house in San Antonio in 2007. Six years later, after several problems, she lost her home to foreclosure. Now, retired and living in Idaho, she fears she’ll never own a house again.
  • Janet, 52, bought a house with her husband in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in 2003. But years later, he became disabled due to medical issues, and she became the sole breadwinner of the family. They lost their home to foreclosure in 2014. The couple and their two children now live with her mother-in-law.
  • Brian, 28, is a geophysicist living in Hawaii with his wife and two children. He and his wife purchased a townhome in Oahu in 2005. Three years later, his home lost more than half of its value overnight.

Our guest experts on Episode 5 include Alyssa Katz, author of Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us; Maya Rockeymoore, president of the Center for Global Policy Solutions; Elyse Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital; and Christie Peale, executive director at Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

Read the complete transcript of Episode 5 here.

To join this Slate Academy and hear future episodes, chat in our private Facebook group, and read supplementary materials, visit

This episode included music by Kai Engel, Chris Zabriskie, Kevin MacLeod, and Sergey Cheremisinov.