Although the foreclosure crisis is considered over, some areas of the U.S. continue to suffer from high foreclosure rates. This research presents findings from in-depth interviews conducted with 18 service providers who worked with families to prevent their foreclosures in Cleveland, Ohio. The research focused on better understanding the landscape of the Cleveland foreclosure experience. Service providers provided insight into families’ experiences with the foreclosure process. The three main themes developed from the interviews included: (1) clients lacked knowledge about the mortgage process; (2) lenders exploited clients’ lack of knowledge, setting them up to fail with predatory mortgages and targeting specific groups; and (3) mortgage servicers were inflexible, inconsistent, incompetent, and lacked regard for clients, except for local servicers. The findings provide implications for housing research, policy, and practice.


foreclosure, housing counselors, qualitative, interviews

Author Bio(s)

Cyleste Collins is an associate professor of social work at Cleveland State University. Her work primarily focuses on health disparities, infant and maternal mortality prevention, community-engaged research, community/academic partnerships, and family housing instability. She earned her MSW and Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Alabama and her M.A. in Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara. Please direct correspondence to c.c.collins44@csuohio.edu.

LeaAnne DeRigne is a professor of social work at the Sandler School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University. She has published extensively in the field of paid sick leave, analyzing its impact on financial well-being and healthcare service use. Her most recent publication examined paid sick leave and business outcomes. Dr. DeRigne completed her MSW and Ph.D. from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Please direct correspondence lderigne@fau.edu.

Elizabeth Anthony provides psychotherapeutic services to adults struggling with anxiety and depression and program evaluation assistance to local and national organizations. She has worked in a variety of settings, including academic, health care, and community-based in both research and clinical capacities. She received her Ph.D. in Community Psychology from Georgia State University and her MSW from Cleveland State University. Please direct correspondence exa136@case.edu.

David Rothstein is Senior Principal at the CFE Fund, where he leads the national Bank On initiative. Previously, he served as Director of Resource Development and Public Affairs for Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, providing fund development and policy leadership. He also served as a research fellow for the New America Foundation in asset building and the Program Director for the Ohio CASH Coalition with Policy Matters Ohio. He has a B.A. in Political Science from John Carroll University and an M.A. from Kent State University where he is ABD. Please direct correspondence drothstein@cfefund.org.

Debbie Shaffer (nee Taylor), MSSA, LISW-S is a clinician, supervisor, and trainer. During her tenure in social work, she has served in various capacities, including as an instructor, researcher, and loan officer. In this discipline, she assisted individuals and families, many of whom were sold loans they did not understand or were not a good fit and caused clinically significant distress. Working in collaboration with borrowers to assess the person-in-environment, she identified objectives and developed individualized plans that met borrowers’ needs and goals, thereby decreasing their stressors and increasing their quality of life. Please direct correspondence dat80@case.edu.


We are grateful for all the service providers who took the time to speak with us.

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