The Surreal Estate

Perspectives on Tenant Organizing from the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

Friday News Round-Up

The summer is winding down around here, but tenant meetings and coalitions and actions are ramping up! Stay tuned. And in the meanwhile, here is our Friday News Round-Up!

  1. The housing market is mired in foreclosures and there is really no end in sight. This deep crisis in housing has morphed over the past five years: now many, many homeowners who did NOT sign sneaky loans are ALSO in foreclosure, because they lost their job and are unable to make mortgage payments. The Obama administration bailed out big banks and big car companies but has yet to make a decisive move on the foreclosure front. The New York Times reports on his slow response to the arguable most pressing crisis of our time.
  2. We tell tenants every day that foreclosure is an opportunity to write off a lot of bad debt, kick your slumlord to the curb and bring in a new owner (perhaps even tenants themselves!) with goals of providing safe, affordable living. Other people see foreclosure as an opportunity as wel; — to buy up housing for $300,000 and flip it for $1M with no regard for residents or community well-being. “Investors” or “Entrepreneurs” or Capitalists” or “Bottom-Feeders”…call them what you will. The Atlantic Cities reports on this practice in Pittsburgh’s largest suburb. It’s an interesting read.  
  3. Brian Lehrer was the moderator this week for our third (fourth? fifth?) round of NYCHA vs. NYDN. Arthur Browne calls John Rhea an incompetent banker; John Rhea calls Arthur Browne a liar. Listen to Arthur Browne here and John Rhea here. We don’t know who to believe anymore. But we agree with both men: As national commitment to public housing continues its 30 year decline, NYCHA remains vital to providing affordable housing to 100,000s of New Yorkers and it is a necessary resource that must be preserved. 
  4. The Atlantic Cities has released a graphic that delves into the geography of underwater mortgages. Your shocking piece of information for the day: In a list of 50 large metros in the United States, New York City has one of the lowest percentages of homeowners with negative equity in their property at 20.7%. 20.7% of NYC homeowners are underwater or in foreclosure and that is a national LOW. I don’t know if there is anyone out there who doesn’t believe in the foreclosure crisis but if there is they just got proved wrong.  If this is too depressing, the Atlantic Cities also published an article on the geography of craft beer
  5. As you know, a man who had recently been laid off shot into a rush-hour crowd of people outside of the Empire State Building this morning, killing at least one former coworker. He then was gunned down by the NYPD. I don’t know what is most upsetting about this. The frequency of random, brutal gun violence. The media frenzy reminds us of the violence that happens all over this great city that no one cares to document. The fact that the NYPD may have shot several civilians themselves.  The national undercurrent of anxiety about the state of the economy and job loss that is taking a very real psychological toll.  Our thoughts are with today’s victims, all over New York, all over the country. 

 

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