Phyllis Pruitt lives in Glen Cove, a city on the north shore of Long Island. Where she wants to live is in Hempstead Village—her home for most of her life—but she can’t afford it.
After taking out a predatory reverse mortgage, Pruitt, who is now 60, lost her family house there. When she tried to buy it back, the housing market in the village had changed, and she was out-bid. She searched the area for an affordable place, in vain. She soon had to expand her search outward toward the fringes of Long Island. “There’s something wrong with that,” she told the Regional Plan Association (RPA), an urban research and advocacy organization in area. “I did all the right things—graduated high school, got my master’s degree, worked for the federal government… for 22 years, I put money aside, I invested. I bought into the notion of staying in my community so I could give back,” she says. “And, I’m no longer here.”