Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘foreclosure’ Category

The Buffalo News’ recent investigations into City Hall’s housing policies raised some very important issues.

How much is too much to subsidize the construction of homes in the city?

Should developers receive these subsidies? Or should homeowners receive these subsidies?

Should private developers be relied upon for the development of these homes or should non-profits?

These are important questions that City Hall should spend more time thinking about as they move forward with projects like Sycamore Village. However these types of questions do not begin to challenge the ideal upon which this kind of housing policy rests: homeownership.

There are obviously many benefits to homeownership and for many people it is probably ideal.

Unfortunately homeownership is not a very affordable option for many people in Buffalo.

Homeownership requires homeowners to have a very steady and relatively high level of income. As the UB Regional Institute’s new report Playing an Insecure Hand: Low-Wage Workers in the New Economy points out, an increasingly large number of people in Buffalo are only finding inconsistent low-wage work. This kind of an income prevents many people from getting past the high upfront costs associated with buying a home. Further, even if one is able to get a mortgage, the costs associated with maintaining a home can be high. Many home owners are thus at risk of falling into foreclosure.

The Buffalo News’ report bears this out:

“Of the 431 subsidized homes that resold among the 1,500 [that have been subsidized by the City], more than half — 231 — were foreclosed upon, with most — 184 — involving the original subsidized owner. These foreclosures basically wiped out the $4 million in publicly funded subsidies the 184 foreclosed owners received.”

Obviously homeownership is a risky proposition at best for many people in the city.

Even renting is unaffordable for most people! According to the US Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, 55.8% of renters in Buffalo spend over 30% of their household income on rent. HUD states that the “generally accepted definition of affordability is for a household to pay no more than 30 percent of its annual income on housing”.

Additionally, according to the Homeless Alliance’s statistics, roughly 2000 people cannot even afford rent on any given night and as a result are homeless.

Bearing all this in mind, should homeownership be the main focus of our housing policy?

We believe that it is time for our community to broaden its outlook on the housing situation in Buffalo beyond homeownership and begin to focus housing policy on making housing affordable to all people.

PS: For a great discussion of the development of federal housing policy and issues with its emphasis on homeownership as a guiding principle see Thomas Sugrue’s article Why the New American Real Estate Dream is Renting.

Read Full Post »

We just got this message from our friends at PUSH:

We need volunteers!

One of PUSH’s national partners, National People’s Action, is bringing the Federal Reserve to Buffalo!

With millions of regular people caught in the grip of foreclosures, ballooning mortgages and predatory loans the Fed is traveling to cities hard-hit by the economic crisis to hear about the urgent need of reform and PUSH wants everyone there!

We need boots on the ground and people on the phones to get the turnout we need at this meeting. If you think you can canvass or phone-bank with us beginning on Monday, June 29th through July 15th, please give us a call at 716-884-0356 or shoot me an email, harrison@pushbuffalo.org

If you’d like to canvass, please show up to the office at 4 and if you’re interested in phone-banking, show up at 5.

The neighborhood needs to turn out to meet the Fed because we need access to credit, banks that invest in our communities, and green jobs that pay us a living wage! Real People have Real Power! Again, please lend us a hand canvassing or phone-banking, we would love to see you.

****

The Subprime Crisis has helped force thousands of Americans into homelessness and it is hugely important that the Fed steps in to reform.  The National Coalition for the Homeless recently released  a report that details the effects of the Subprime Crisis on homelessness:

Foreclosure to Homelessness 2009: the Forgotten Victims of the Subprime Crisis

We need you to help bring people out to tell the Fed how the Subprime Crisis has affected people in Buffalo.  Volunteer to canvass or phonebank and try to bring anyone you know who has been affected by predatory lending.  The meeting is:

July 16th, 6pm
Trinity Episcopal Church
371 Delaware Ave, Buffalo

They’ll be here soon so it’s time to get moving!

Read Full Post »

The narrative surrounding the foreclosure crisis of the past year has tended to focus primarily on the foreclosure of homes that were owned by the people who lived in the them.  This article shifts the focus to the rental properties that have been foreclosed upon.  Many of the tenants of these rental properties do not have very high incomes (which is one reason they have to rent instead of own a home) and after the foreclosure they are usually left without a home and do not have very much to fall back on.  People like Yolanda James will burn through the resources they have left until they eventually become homeless.

The article also highlights how rental property foreclosure disproportionately affects communities of color which already have been devastated by economic and racial inequalities for decades.  It also calls for a rethinking of the “ownership society” ideal which the federal government tends to put the majority of its funding into.  Affordable and secure rental housing is crucial for low income families and individuals who do not have the ability to put up the money to own a home yet.  Any effort to end poverty and homelessness must incorporate this type of housing into its plan.

Foreclosure Crisis Hits Poor Renters Hard: Evicted Families Have to Fight to Live Together

By Michelle Chen, ColorLines. Posted May 26, 2009.

Last fall, Yolanda James and her three children were lost in their own city. After foreclosure had forced them from their South Los Angeles apartment, they ran into closed doors at every turn. Aid agencies offered referrals to other offices, but no relief, and neither the shelter system nor the city’s high-priced housing market had room for them. James burned through her welfare money to pay for motel rooms and later resorted to sleeping with her children in their car.

“I was, like, two or three different people at one time,” she recalled. “I had to get on the grind, to hustle, to make sure my kids–when they get out of school, I could feed them, or I could take them somewhere to shower and bathe for the next day.”

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Al-Jazeera, an international news agency, recently did an investigative piece on Buffalo that highlighted poverty and economic development in the city. Local activists from the Coalition for Economic Justice, People United for Sustainable Housing, the Partnership for the Public Good, and Harvest House were all interviewed.

What is notable about this video is the coverage of the living wage struggle for city sanitation workers who were being paid $9/hour and classified as seasonal workers. Every year, they would be laid off for a week and on their lay-off notice would be given a date to report back for work. This was to circumvent Buffalo’s living wage law; if they were classified as permanent workers they would have to be paid a living wage – laying them off for a week kept them classified as seasonal workers and not covered by the living wage law. This coverage is noteworthy because it was not covered in-depth by local or regional media outlets, yet was given significant coverage by international media in this program.

Here is the video from YouTube:

Read Full Post »