By Stephanie Stahl

Stephanie Stahl reports…

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The foreclosure crisis is creating a public health threat, according to a new study released today. This new research says there’s an increase in depression rates among people over the age of 50, who are behind in their mortgage payments. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more.

The mortgage crisis is taking an especially troubling toll on older Americans, according to the first long term study of it’s kind.

“What we found is that health declines dramatically over a two year period, especially in people who have been late on their mortgages,” said Carolyn Cannuscio, with the Philadelphia VA and the University of Pennsylvania, who was involved with the research.

It found increased rates of depression for people behind in their mortgage payments.

“We really do believe that, especially in older adults, it will be difficult for them to get back on their feet,” said Cannuscio.

The study also found those struggling with mortgages often can’t afford food or medications.

“This is not a small problem, this is a vast problem for our population, and when we think about the health ramifications, we will be paying for the mortgage crisis for a very long time,” said Cannuscio.

She says people will be sicker and unable to work, and eventually overwhelm social services.

“I think we have a large crisis on our hands, and we need to be thinking about the housing crisis as a crisis for health,” said Cannuscio.

The research showed minorities, especially African American and the Hispanic, are suffering the most with the mortgage crisis.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS3

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