[Hpn] Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sat, 22 Dec 2007 15:16:45 -0500


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http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com:80/2007/12/tent-city-in-suburbs-is-cost=
-of-nations.html

Saturday, December 22, 2007
Tent city in suburbs is cost of nation's foreclosure crisis=20


Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis=20
By Dana Ford Fri Dec 21, 8:18 AM ET=20

Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits =
"tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be =
expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of =
Southern California.

The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now =
numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region =
east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.

The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a =
21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel =
about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.

As more families throw in the towel and head to foreclosure here and =
across the nation, the social costs of collapse are adding up in the =
form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even disease.

While no current residents claim to be victims of foreclosure, all agree =
that tent city is a symptom of the wider economic downturn. And it's =
just a matter of time before foreclosed families end up at tent city, =
local housing experts say.

"They don't hit the streets immediately," said activist Jane Mercer. =
Most families can find transitional housing in a motel or with friends =
before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit tent city when =
they really bottom out."

Steve, 50, who declined to give his last name, moved to tent city four =
months ago. He gets social security payments, but cannot work and said =
rents are too high.

"House prices are going down, but the rentals are sky-high," said Steve. =
"If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a place to go."

'SQUATTING IN VACANT HOUSES'

Nationally, foreclosures are at an all-time high. Filings are up nearly =
100 percent from a year ago, according to the data firm RealtyTrac. =
Officials say that as many as half a million people could lose their =
homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two years.

California ranks second in the nation for foreclosure filings -- one per =
88 households last quarter. Within California, San Bernardino county in =
the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for every 43 households, =
according to RealtyTrac.

Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream house in San Bernardino in 2003 and =
now risks losing it after falling four months behind on mortgage =
payments.

"It's not just us. It's all over," said Hernandez, who lives in a =
neighborhood where most families are struggling to meet payments and =
many have lost their homes.

She has noticed an increase in crime since the foreclosures started. Her =
house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen and she worries about what =
type of message empty houses send.

The pattern is cropping up in communities across the country, like =
Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County =
Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire blocks of homes in =
Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded up.

"I don't think there are enough police to go after criminals holed up in =
those houses, squatting or doing drug deals or whatever," Wiseman said.

"And it's not just a problem of a neighborhood filled with people =
squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left behind, who have to =
worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking into your =
house while you're sleeping."

Health risks are also on the rise. All those empty swimming pools in =
California's Inland Empire have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, =
which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, Riverside =
County officials say.=20

'TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT'=20

But it is not just homeowners who are hit by the foreclosure wave. =
People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, more expensive market =
as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean Beil, senior =
vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities USA.=20

"Folks who would have been in a house before are now in an apartment and =
folks that would have been in an apartment, now can't afford it," said =
Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect."=20

For cities, foreclosures can trigger a range of short-term costs, like =
added policing, inspection and code enforcement. These expenses can be =
significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San Bernardino Police =
Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties lower home =
values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues.=20

And it all comes at a time when municipalities are ill-equipped to =
respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home values are sapping =
property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to tackle such =
problems.=20

Earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush rolled out a plan to =
slow foreclosures by freezing the interest rates on some loans. But for =
many in these parts, the intervention is too little and too late.=20

Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities in San Bernardino and Riverside =
counties, said his organization is overwhelmed and ill-equipped to =
handle the volume of people seeking help.=20

"We feel helpless," said Sawa. "Obviously, it's a local problem because =
it's in our backyard, but the solution is not local."=20

(Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ohio; Editing by Mary =
Milliken and Eddie Evans)



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<H2 class=3Ddate-header><A=20
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-is-cost-of-nations.html">http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com:80/2007/12/te=
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<H2 class=3Ddate-header>&nbsp;</H2>
<H2 class=3Ddate-header>Saturday, December 22, 2007</H2>
<DIV class=3D"post hentry uncustomized-post-template"><A=20
name=3D8011713770003077239></A>
<H3 class=3D"post-title entry-title"><A=20
href=3D"http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com/2007/12/tent-city-in-suburbs-is=
-cost-of-nations.html">Tent=20
city in suburbs is cost of nation's foreclosure crisis</A> </H3>
<DIV class=3Dpost-header-line-1></DIV>
<DIV class=3D"post-body entry-content">
<P><!-- END PRINT HEAD -->
<DIV class=3Dprintstory id=3Dynstory style=3D"FONT-FAMILY: arial"><!-- =
BEGIN HEADLINE -->
<H1>
<DIV class=3Dsource><FONT size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV><SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Tent city in suburbs is cost of home crisis =
</SPAN></H1><!-- END HEADLINE -->
<DIV id=3Dynmain><!-- BEGIN STORY BODY -->
<DIV id=3Dstorybody>
<DIV class=3Dstoryhdr>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%"><SPAN><SPAN style=3D"FONT-WEIGHT: =
bold">By Dana=20
Ford </SPAN></SPAN><EM class=3Dtimedate>Fri Dec 21, 8:18 AM =
ET</EM></SPAN>=20
</P></DIV>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Between railroad tracks and beneath =
the roar of=20
departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is =
not, as=20
might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming =
suburbia=20
of Southern California.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in =
July with 20=20
residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, =
growing as=20
this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing=20
crisis.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">The unraveling of the region known as =
the=20
Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of =
Wrath," John=20
Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great=20
Depression.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">As more families throw in the towel =
and head to=20
foreclosure here and across the nation, the social costs of collapse are =
adding=20
up in the form of higher rates of homelessness, crime and even=20
disease.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">While no current residents claim to =
be victims=20
of foreclosure, all agree that tent city is a symptom of the wider =
economic=20
downturn. And it's just a matter of time before foreclosed families end =
up at=20
tent city, local housing experts say.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"They don't hit the streets =
immediately," said=20
activist Jane Mercer. Most families can find transitional housing in a =
motel or=20
with friends before turning to charity or the streets. "They only hit =
tent city=20
when they really bottom out."</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Steve, 50, who declined to give his =
last name,=20
moved to tent city four months ago. He gets social security payments, =
but cannot=20
work and said rents are too high.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"House prices are going down, but the =
rentals=20
are sky-high," said Steve. "If it wasn't for here, I wouldn't have a =
place to=20
go."</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">'SQUATTING IN VACANT =
HOUSES'</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Nationally, foreclosures are at an =
all-time=20
high. Filings are up nearly 100 percent from a year ago, according to =
the data=20
firm RealtyTrac. Officials say that as many as half a million people =
could lose=20
their homes as adjustable mortgage rates rise over the next two=20
years.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">California ranks second in the nation =
for=20
foreclosure filings -- one per 88 households last quarter. Within =
California,=20
San Bernardino county in the Inland Empire is worse -- one filing for =
every 43=20
households, according to RealtyTrac.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Maryanne Hernandez bought her dream =
house in=20
San Bernardino in 2003 and now risks losing it after falling four months =
behind=20
on mortgage payments.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"It's not just us. It's all over," =
said=20
Hernandez, who lives in a neighborhood where most families are =
struggling to=20
meet payments and many have lost their homes.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">She has noticed an increase in crime =
since the=20
foreclosures started. Her house was robbed, her kids' bikes were stolen =
and she=20
worries about what type of message empty houses send.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">The pattern is cropping up in =
communities=20
across the country, like Cleveland, Ohio, where Mark Wiseman, director =
of the=20
Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program, said there are entire =
blocks of=20
homes in Cleveland where 60 or 70 percent of houses are boarded =
up.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"I don't think there are enough =
police to go=20
after criminals holed up in those houses, squatting or doing drug deals =
or=20
whatever," Wiseman said.</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"And it's not just a problem of a =
neighborhood=20
filled with people squatting in the vacant houses, it's the people left =
behind,=20
who have to worry about people taking siding off your home or breaking =
into your=20
house while you're sleeping."</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Health risks are also on the rise. =
All those=20
empty swimming pools in California's Inland Empire have become breeding =
grounds=20
for mosquitoes, which can transmit the sometimes deadly West Nile virus, =

Riverside County officials say. </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">'TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT' </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">But it is not just homeowners who are =
hit by=20
the foreclosure wave. People who rent now find themselves in a tighter, =
more=20
expensive market as demand rises from families who lost homes, said Jean =
Beil,=20
senior vice president for programs and services at Catholic Charities =
USA.=20
</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"Folks who would have been in a house =
before=20
are now in an apartment and folks that would have been in an apartment, =
now=20
can't afford it," said Beil. "It has a trickle-down effect." </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">For cities, foreclosures can trigger =
a range of=20
short-term costs, like added policing, inspection and code enforcement. =
These=20
expenses can be significant, said Lt. Scott Patterson with the San =
Bernardino=20
Police Department, but the larger concern is that vacant properties =
lower home=20
values and in the long-run, decrease tax revenues. </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">And it all comes at a time when =
municipalities=20
are ill-equipped to respond. High foreclosure rates and declining home =
values=20
are sapping property tax revenues, a key source of local funding to =
tackle such=20
problems. </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Earlier this month, U.S. President =
George W.=20
Bush rolled out a plan to slow foreclosures by freezing the interest =
rates on=20
some loans. But for many in these parts, the intervention is too little =
and too=20
late. </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">Ken Sawa, CEO of Catholic Charities =
in San=20
Bernardino and Riverside counties, said his organization is overwhelmed =
and=20
ill-equipped to handle the volume of people seeking help. </SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">"We feel helpless," said Sawa. =
"Obviously, it's=20
a local problem because it's in our backyard, but the solution is not =
local."=20
</SPAN></P>
<P><SPAN style=3D"FONT-SIZE: 100%">(Additional reporting by Andrea =
Hopkins in=20
Ohio; Editing by Mary Milliken and<A=20
href=3D"http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071221/us_nm/usa_housing_social_dc">=
<SPAN=20
style=3D"FONT-WEIGHT: bold"><FONT color=3D#de7008> Eddie=20
Evans)</FONT></SPAN></A></SPAN></P></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV></DIV>
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