29. Reinventing America’s Cities The Time Is Now –

March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Reinventing America’s Cities – The Time Is Now – NYTimes.com.

but this is not what a city should look like. GarenWorld would approach this differently, keeping function but adding aesthetic. Think of Austin, Texas. This is the LA river.


28. Reinventing America’s Cities – The Time Is Now

March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Reinventing America’s Cities: The Time Is Now

via Reinventing America’s Cities – The Time Is Now – NYTimes.com.

Published: March 25, 2009

THE country has fallen on hard times, but those of us who love cities know we have been living in the dark ages for a while now. We know that turning things around will take more than just pouring money into shovel-ready projects, regardless of how they might boost the economy. Windmills won’t do it either. We long for a bold urban vision.

27. Watsonville plan

March 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Over the weekend Bill Leland and I met and came up with a proposal we think makes sense and can be done.

The idea is to bring together foreclosed houses, people who need housing, and a support network based on Americore workers.

Banks are concerned that foreclosed houses are a likely candidate for deterioration through lack of maintenance and vandalism. Neighbors are worried about declining neighborhoods and potential crime. What if we got the bank to allow homeless families to live in those houses with a support team of Americore workers.

Lets say we took five families and created a team of support people who would help the family maintain the house, improve the gardens, and provide other support necessary to help the family succeed. The families would meet together and agree to work with the team and maintain the houses.  Each group of five families (this is preliminary) would have a support team of supporters who could also deliver local health and welfare as needed to the families. this might go so far as, if both parents are working, to add child welfare and other health normally delivered, or not, by the county. the tams would be coaches to the families, guarantors of the upkeep of the houses, and managing welfare aspects.

The teams would be closely supervised and networked, learning from each other, in what could turn into a major community building and revitalization effort.

Key here is for the banks to find this advantageous, protecting their investment in the houses. If the house were to be sold, the teams would relocate the families. It might turn out that some of the families can actually get to a position where they could purchase the house.

This plan requires brining together the banks, and the local government, to make this work. Key is the ability of the county or city government to qualify for Americore workers, and others provided by the stimulus, working for example to retrofit some of the houses for energy conservation.

A further aspect of the plan is to have those adults who are unemployed to work at the food coop on a new extended project to provide community based food. The workers would receive free food for their families in exchange, with the promise that when economic conditions permit they also would receive some wages.

26. Mortgage Defaults, Delinquencies Rise

March 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Defaults on home mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration in February increased from a year earlier.

A spokesman for the FHA said 7.5% of FHA loans were “seriously delinquent” at the end of February, up from 6.2% a year earlier. Seriously delinquent includes loans that are 90 days or more overdue, in the foreclosure process or in bankruptcy.

Since the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in 2007, most home loans for people who can’t afford a sizable down payment are flowing to the FHA. The agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, insures mortgage lenders against the risk of defaults on home mortgages that meet its standards. FHA-insured loans are available on loans with down payments as small as 3.5% of the home’s value.

The FHA’s share of the U.S. mortgage market soared to nearly a third of loans originated in last year’s fourth quarter from about 2% in 2006 as a whole, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. That is increasing the risk to taxpayers if the FHA’s reserves prove inadequate to cover default losses.

As of January, the cities with the highest FHA default rates in January were Punta Gorda, Fla., at 18%; Detroit, 15.6%; Flint, Mich., 15.1%; Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla., 15%, and Elkhart-Goshen, Ind., 12.1%, according to a HUD report.

Foreclosed FHA homes owned by HUD totaled 39,687 in January, up 22% from a year earlier.

via Mortgage Defaults, Delinquencies Rise – WSJ.com.

25. In Homeowners’ Latest Woe

March 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

On our housing proposal

City officials and housing advocates here and in cities as varied as Buffalo, Kansas City, Mo., and Jacksonville, Fla., say they are seeing an unsettling development: Banks are quietly declining to take possession of properties at the end of the foreclosure process, most often because the cost of the ordeal — from legal fees to maintenance — exceeds the diminishing value of the real estate.

The so-called bank walkaways rarely mean relief for the property owners, caught unaware months after the fact, and often mean additional financial burdens and bureaucratic headaches. Technically, they still owe on the mortgage, but as a practicality, rarely would a mortgage holder receive any more payments on the loan. The way mortgages are bundled and resold, it can be enormously time-consuming just trying to determine what company holds the loan on a property thought to be in foreclosure.

via In Homeowners’ Latest Woe, Banks Are Skipping Foreclosures – NYTimes.com.

24. Greider on Bill Moyers

March 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

On the economy

we had the rules and regulations, the agencies created some 80 years ago and afterwards to prevent this sort of catastrophe. And these same political players, Republicans and Democrats holding hands, stripped them away, eviscerated them. The same agencies these reformers want to put in power to prevent this from happening again. Starting with the Federal Reserve, the Securities Exchange Commission, other regulators, utterly failed in their duty to do that. Now, we’re going to give them new power.

… The bailout of Bear Stearns was really about protecting J.P. Morgan Chase.

The story was told backwards in the press, basically, because it’s a story the government told that J.P. Morgan came in to buy Bear Stearns at the behest of the government. But in fact, if Bear Stearns had gone down, J.P. Morgan Chase was vulnerable itself to a wave of derivative crashing crisis. When they bailed out A.I.G., the chief executive of Goldman Sachs was in the room. Why was he in the room? Well, because he had big exposure to- through derivatives, to A.I.G. So, when they pump money into A.I.G., it sends the same dollars out and buys back these derivative contracts at par value, not even discounted, to the banks and others who hold them. Goldman Sachs gets $12 billion out of that transaction. This is another scandal waiting to surface. And I trust good, smart reporters are already on the case. And following the dollars that moved around among the leading financial institutions in ways that politicians could not have not known about it. It defies reason to think that Washington didn’t know this was happening……

President Obama and if the Democratic leaders in Congress follow along, he’ll put the Democratic Party on the wrong side of history. At this critical moment. What we ought to be seeking, the goal of reform, and government aid, is creating a new financial and banking system, of many more, thousands more, smaller, more diverse, regionally dispersed banks and investment firms. That’s first obligation is to serve the economy and serve society. Not the other way around. What the administration’s approach may be doing is consecrating too big to fail, for starters. Which, of course, everybody in government denied was the policy until the moment arrived. And secondly, and this will sound extreme to some people, but I came to it reluctantly. I fear what they’re doing, not intentionally, but in their design is setting the crown for a corporate state.

23. The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic May 2009

March 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic May 2009 .

must read.

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