Bo’s housing clips: Battered by crisis, poor still find paths to home ownership

Compiled by Bo McCarver. Special to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service

As default notices and foreclosures continue, the Federal Reserve prepares to fine eight more banks for making sleazy mortgages. But punitive actions do little to help “underwater” homeowners, some of whom have mounted a demonstration in Fort Worth.

Meanwhile, the TARP bailout initiated in 2008 by the Treasury Department is in the black as bonds supporting the effort have been bought in the private market.

For a pdf version of the full stories, plus contextual articles in social, environmental and legal areas, contact Bo McCarver at


Sweet Home: When Owning Isn’t All About Money

By Annie Baxter      NPR      March 18, 2012

It’s not hard to figure out why the Rhodes family would want a house of their own. Their son Paul’s passion for music makes it clear right away.

His mom, Tamika Rhodes, says in their last place, a two-bedroom apartment, Paul couldn’t play the drums because it would have driven the neighbors crazy.

Now he, his two sisters, mom and dad live in a big, five-bedroom house in St. Paul, Minn. Rhodes says they all feel much more comfortable.

At the height of the housing crisis, low-income Americans had many opportunities to buy a home with the help of subprime mortgages, which proved to be disastrous. But those battered by the crisis continue to find paths to home ownership, despite financial disincentives.

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Federal Reserve to fine eight more banks on foreclosure violations

By Jim Puzzanghera and E. Scott Reckard       Los Angeles Times        March 19, 2012

Eight large banks face will be fined by regulators for foreclosure abuses, the Federal Reserve official said Monday.

The banks — EverBank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC North America, OneWest Bank, MetLife, PNC Financial Services Group, US Bancorp and SunTrust Banks — face sanctions for “unsafe and unsound practices in their loan servicing and foreclosure processing,” the Fed said.

No fine amounts were released Monday.

Full story at:,0,5598208.story


U.S. turns a profit on bailout’s mortgage-backed securities

The $225-billion mortgage bond program, which began during the financial crisis to keep the housing finance market afloat, and the bank bailout are the only major bailout programs in the black so far.

By Jim Puzzanghera        Los Angeles Times        March 19, 2012

Reporting from Washington— In reaping a $25-billion profit on mortgage-backed securities, the Treasury Department showed that some bailout programs are able to make money.

But taxpayers still are likely to end up tens of billions of dollars in the red from the federal government’s unprecedented efforts to stabilize the financial system after the 2008 global credit crisis and the deep recession.

Besides the $225-billion mortgage bond program, which began during the financial crisis to keep the housing finance market afloat, the bank bailout portion of the $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program was the only major program so far to turn a profit.

Full story at:,0,2699633.story


U.S. builders began work on fewer homes in February, but permits for new homes jumped 5 percent

Associated Press       March 20, 2012

WASHINGTON — U.S. builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February, but they began preparing for what could be the healthiest spring buying season since the housing bubble burst.

The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month. That’s down 1.1 percent from January.

WASHINGTON — U.S. builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February, but they began preparing for what could be the healthiest spring buying season since the housing bubble burst.

The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month. That’s down 1.1 percent from January.

But the government revised up its figures from January. And building permits, a gauge of future construction, jumped 5.1 percent last month to the highest level in more than a year.

Construction of single-family homes, which makes up roughly 70 percent of housing starts, dipped in February to 457,000 after rising for four straight months to an 18-month high. A jump in volatile apartment construction offset the decline.

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Home default notices rise in February: RealtyTrac

Reuters      March 14, 2012

The number of Americans receiving delinquency notices on their homes rose in February from January, while the backlog of homes in the foreclosure pipeline showed signs of starting to ease, a report said on Thursday.

Default notices were filed for the first time on 58,886 homes last month, up 1 percent from January, though still down 7 percent from February 2011, a report from RealtyTrac showed.

A dozen states saw increases of 20 percent or more compared with the year before, including Hawaii, Florida and Massachusetts.

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Foreclosures fall in California and U.S. — but it may not last

By Alejandro Lazo      Los Angeles Times      March 14, 2012

The foreclosure picture brightened last month in California and nationwide, but the improvement may not last, according to Irvine data tracker RealtyTrac.

California’s forclosure activity fell 13% to a 51-month low in February compared with a year earlier, with foreclosure filings going to 48,422 properties in the state, or 1 in 283 homes.

In Los Angeles and Orange counties, all forms of foreclosure filings fell 18% in February from a year earlier. Filings include notices of default, notices of foreclosure sales and repossessions. Foreclosure filings dropped 11% in the Inland Empire and 9% in San Diego County over the same time period.

Full story at:,0,4407096.story


Stockton: The town the housing boom broke

By Michelle Conlin and Jim Christie        Reuters       March 19, 2012

For decades, Stockton, California suffered a civic inferiority complex. Los Angeles had celebrities and sunny beaches. San Francisco was awash in tech futurism and post-pubescent billionaires. Stockton was the polyester, buy-generic cousin, a dingy commercial hub for Central Valley farms that was just far enough from the San Francisco Bay area to be an irrelevance for the state’s coastal elites.

But then came the housing boom, and sorry Stockton practically started to strut. Its loamy farmlands – among the most fertile in the United States – gave way to shiny subdivisions. Middle-class families, priced out of the Bay area housing market, snapped up the new homes, happily trading extreme commutes for the suburban niceties of four bedrooms and a yard.

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Fort Worth protesters call for more homeowner relief

By Jim Fuquay       Fort Worth Star-Telegram      March 15, 2012

About 1 in 8 Fort Worth-Arlington homeowners has a mortgage for more than the current market value of the house.

On Thursday, about 20 demonstrators gathered in downtown Fort Worth to call for the federal government to take more action to help such “underwater” owners by reducing the outstanding balances of their home loans.

The noontime event, sponsored by the Fort Worth office of the national political group, lasted about an hour at Burnett Park along Seventh Street.

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How the housing bubble increased segregation

Posted by Suzy Khimm         Washington Post     March 16, 2012

Black and Hispanic homebuyers received a disproportionate number of subprime mortgages during the housing boom, leading some to theorize that easy credit may have helped desegregate low-income neighborhoods as minorities became more upwardly mobile. But two economists have discovered that the opposite actually happened: between 1995 and 2006, the country’s top metropolitan areas became more segregated, not less so.

How did this happen? In a VoxEU paper, Amine Ouazad and Romain Ranciere found that while black families tended to move to more integrated neighborhoods, upwardly mobile Hispanics were more likely to self-segregate. They tended to use easy credit “to buy houses in predominantly Hispanic neighbourhoods with the consequence of enrolling their children in schools with fewer black peers, and more Hispanic and white peers,” the authors write. By 2006, black students had 2 percent fewer Hispanic peers as a result. By contrast, Hispanic students moved to school districts “with about 1,600 fewer black students.”

Full story at:


Texas gets nearly $10.5M in HUD homeless grants

Associated Press       March 14, 2012

More than a dozen Texas communities will share nearly $10.5 million in federal grants to support programs for the homeless.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the funds Tuesday afternoon.

The HUD money goes to projects in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Galveston, Georgetown, Houston, Killeen, Longview, Mount Pleasant, Richmond, San Antonio, Sherman, Waco and Wichita Falls.

HUD authorities say the money is meant to help provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent support for individuals and families.

The Texas funds are part of about $201 million in grants awarded nationwide.

Additional information in HUD press release:

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