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Washington is so stumped about a list of 92,000 properties that it holds nationally that it’s asking investors and others to send in ideas on what to do. The Cincinnati region has more government-owned foreclosures on the list than any market in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana. In fact, the region’s total is higher than those for 19 states, including Kentucky.The government wants to unload 677 foreclosed single-family homes in the 15-county Greater Cincinnati region that it or government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now own.The 92,000 homes nationally are part of a total 250,000 foreclosures of all kinds that the government holds, apparently making it the nation’s largest owner of foreclosed properties. The 250,000 is roughly a third of foreclosed properties across the U.S.“Until we work through this mass of houses on the market under foreclosure, we’re not going to see a revival in home sales or prices of any substantial amount,” acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said during a recent visit to Cincinnati. “People estimate everything from one to two years before we get through all of this. There is no short answer to it. I wish there was.”Because of the size of the backlog, government officials are specifically looking for ways to move homes in bulk – not to individual homeowners. Ideas include converting the homes to rental properties or offering lease-for-sale plans.“Millions of families nationwide have seen their home values impacted as their neighbors’ homes fall into foreclosure or become abandoned,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a news release announcing the program in August. “At the same time, with half of all renters spending more than a third of their income on housing and a quarter spending more than half, we have to find and promote new ways to alleviate the strain on the affordable rental market.”Moving the backlog of foreclosed homes would get them off the books of the Federal Housing Administration, as well as Fannie and Freddie, the government-sponsored entities that purchase mortgages, bundle them together and then sell mortgage-backed securities to investors. The FHAFannie and Freddie became owners of the foreclosed properties as hundreds of thousands of homeowners defaulted on their mortgages during the recent housing bust.Clearing the backlog also would limit the loss to taxpayers, who already have bailed out Fannie and Freddie at a cost of $171 billion and counting with more losses expected through 2013. Although Fannie and Freddie were created by Congress, they are public companies and have been under a federal conservatorship since 2008.No information is available on the exact locations of the local houses. But a search of a government website, Huduser.org, listing some of its properties for sale, shows homes sprinkled across the region, with a slightly higher concentration on the west side of Cincinnati.How the government sells the homes is crucial, because putting too many of them on the market at one time could drive prices down and hurt neighboring homeowners who are still in their homes. Converting some of the homes to rental units seems likely, but that also may raise the hackles of existing homeowners and housing advocates who are watching the issue closely.South Cumminsville non-profit Working in Neighborhoods is the early stages of drafting recommendations to the government. The non-profit helps local homeowners avoid foreclosure or find alternate solutions“What worries me most is if we start selling these properties in great bulk to investors for rentals – what kind of investors are we going to get?” says Sister Barbara Busch, executive director of the group. “We already have problems with absentee landlords. There needs to be some way to screen the investors who are buying.” Careful consideration also should be given to the foreclosed properties that are in poor shape or beyond repair, she said. Properties that are in the worst shape or aren’t useable should be torn down at the expense of the government institution that owns them, Busch said. “The properties could be given to land banks or non-profits to take care of them locally,” she said. “Otherwise, you’re going to end up with some guy in New York who owns a property in Cincinnati he can’t use, and now we can’t even contact HUD if we have a problem because it’s a guy – or really a limited liability company in New York – that owns the property.” The government isn’t alone facing the problem of what to do with foreclosures. Lenders across the U.S. were holding as much as $51.3 billion in property at the end of the second quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Experts say that until the backlog of foreclosed properties begins to clear out, the housing market will continue to struggle – hampering the nation’s recovery.
One of the underlying threads of conservative thought is that the rich are inherently hard working and “earn” their good fortune, and the poor almost always are poor due to some sort of moral lacking. It’s the Horatio Alger, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality run a muck — the idea that with enough effort and a pure heart, every person will eventually be successful, and if you are not, it must be a sign of weakness of character.
This is the assumption that makes the right believe that most people on welfare, on unemployment, using food stamps or other government aid must be lazy, or lacking in courage, determination or pride. No one “needs” government assistance because they should be able to care for themselves, and a “handout” just makes them try even less.
It’s usually not discussed publicly in so many words, even though that’s what many believe. But David French of the National Review Online doesn’t have any qualms about coming right out and voicing it himself.
It is simply a fact that our social problems are increasingly connected to the depravity of the poor. If an American works hard, completes their education, gets married, and stays married, then they will rarely — very rarely — be poor. At the same time, poverty is the handmaiden of illegitimacy, divorce, ignorance, and addiction. As we have poured money into welfare, we’ve done nothing to address the behaviors that lead to poverty while doing all we can to make that poverty more comfortable and sustainable.
So there are almost no “educated poor”? Rarely any “married poor”? And if the poor always fall into one of these categories of “depravity” that need to be addressed, why are conservatives so anxious to cut the means of addressing them, such as public education, access to affordable colleges, an ability to obtain birth control so that marriage can be saved for those who really are committed to being lifelong partners and not just people who happened to accidentally get pregnant?
Does “depravity” lead to poverty, or is it more often lack of livable wage jobs? Instead of fighting to cut off the programs that allegedly sustain poverty and make it comfortable, how about focusing on increasing minimum wage and employee rights in the workplace?
The only depravity I’ve been seeing lately hasn’t been coming from the poor. It’s the callousness of man to his fellow man.