I'm watching the ABC News Broadcast this evening. Once again, the topic of the grim condition of the housing market is front, prime and center. The locale being covered today is Cleveland, Ohio.
The camera pans across a neighborhood of vacant homes...yes, you read that right. An entire community of 1000 homes boarded up. Their owners gone, the neighborhood resembling the aftermath of a war zone. This is the American Dream turned on it's head. And, we're likely to see more of this before things settle down.
The news segment takes a tour through the community; even interviewing one of the few remaining legitimate residents who talks about the fact that she no longer ventures out at night. She has become a virtual prisoner in her own home.
The peculiar proposals being suggested to deal with this travesty are impressive in a bizarre way. You might want to take note...they could coming to a neighborhood near you! Because vacant homes tend to attract vagrants and other forms of illicit habitation such as abodes for crack addicts, city governments have a real challenge on their hands when an entire community becomes a ghost town. Witness the arrival of some creative solutions.
They started painting the houses in Cleveland according to the news account. Yep, painting whole blocks of houses bright cheerful colors. But what was most extraordinarily to me was that they also painted FAKE curtains on the windows. A strange form of house graffiti. Row, upon row of freshly painted houses with matching painted window treatments as a thin disguise for the nakedness of the peril that had descended upon an area which thousands once called home. The announcer's observation is right on the money..."It's like Putting Lipstick on a Corpse." In addition, the local government is petitioning for the Federal government and the banks who loaned the money to be responsible for bulldozing ENTIRE communities. It will be interesting to watch how that one eventually plays out!
While, you may not be facing the spectre of an entire neighborhood in foreclosure next to you, almost everyone now knows of at least 1 home in their neighborhood which has been vacated under less than auspicious circumstances. Everyone is affected. Statistics indicate that if you have a foreclosed home within your immediate neighborhood, the value of your home decreases $7,000! That's a lot of cash. Particularly when the tax assessed to your home doesn't seem to reflect this. So, homeowners are being hit with a double whammy...higher taxes AND decreases in Value because of the rapid increase of foreclosures in neighborhoods across the nation.
A related story by BBC News by Steve Schifferes entitled "Foreclosure Wave Sweeps America," indicates that Cleveland has now been beset by a tidal wave of crime in these communities and the city anticipates a tax revenue loss of 100,
As communities across America deal with this widening crisis, I expect to see more of the following: tons & tons of blame...don't think the media will not do it's best to add fuel to this tragic tale. We will also see new legislation which may be draconian or worse. In addition...heads will continue to roll as investigations and commissions of all varieties investigate allegations of wrong doing. Sadly, the story will not be neatly packaged into a 5 minutes news segment for those who have lost their homes. For them, it will be the beginning of a long, long walk to freedom...freedom to experience what we've come to accept as an American Birthright...the right to own one's own home.
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