Owning a Home

Foreclosures in America are at a crisis level.

Foreclosures in America are at a crisis level.

We can debate whether or not owning property is an American birthright. Home ownership, however, is part and parcel of a dream that we’ve all been sold on since before we could walk.  What does 10 million foreclosures say about that dream?

Most anyone reading that number is likely to have a couple of reactions, I’m guessing. One, where did the 10,000,000 number come from? I’ll get to that in a moment. By the way, 10,000,000 is a number that represents the number of people making up the population of the state of Michigan, America’s 10th most populated state.

The 10,000,000 number is the conservative estimate on foreclosures since the start of the Great Recession; some say the number could easily be double, or even triple that number. Whether it’s 10, 30, or even 1 million that number speaks volumes about our country and about Americans as a people.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been making my way through George Packer’s, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. It’s not a breezy, summer beach book. I don’t usually read those types of books, anyway.

Packer’s book tells a tale about America that began in 1973, when the unwinding began (and actually, it began before that). This was the year that I was 11-years-old, slinging afternoon papers, buying baseball cards and bubblegum, and coming into my own as a slugging catcher for Trading Post in the Lisbon Junior Athletic League (LJAL). My dad was my coach. He also worked for Pejepscot Paper, and we seemed to be doing ok, or at least ok for a middle-class family at the time.

Abandoned properties unravel the social fabric of communities.

Abandoned properties unravel the social fabric of communities.

I caught a few minutes of Laura Gottesdiener on BookTV this morning, talking about her new book, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. She details what Packer touches on in his book, when he looks at the foreclosure crisis from its epicenter in Tampa, or more specific, Hillsborough County. Packer’s book takes a broader view than merely focusing on the foreclosure mess. Gottesdiener’s book is focused on foreclosures, but also people pushing back and resisting. I’ll likely read it.

Lots of water has gone under the bridge since 1973. Packer shows us through stories about Americans and America that we’ve been on a steady downward slide.

Socioeconomic disparity and inequality, false promises from politicians, and an inability in Americans to face reality hinder our capacity as a people to address the facts and find solutions. This would entail difficulty, sacrifice, and a possible reordering of life as we know it. Many believe that volatile mix makes recovery and stemming the tide impossible.

The other option and the path we are traveling at the moment is that we’ll continue to unwind until we reach a point we can’t turn back from.

Packer’s book is a powerhouse, packing a wallop unlike any I’ve read in the last four to five years. I plan to come back to it here at the JBE, most likely in the form of one of my “big books” type reviews. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Owning a Home

  1. There isn’t web space enough to chronicle the depth of the fraud involved. I used to think there were innocents, but the more I investigated the more I realized that no one except the terminally stupid could have missed what was going on. I live in Hillsborough County, and everybody–the bank’s assessor, my assessor, the “independent” mortgage loan officer, the realtors, the signing agents, the title insurance company–will keep going without me; I can’t name them all, but so long as the gravy train continued they all played along with what they knew was fraud.

    What no one realizes is that there are up to 60 million clouded titles–60 million people paying mortgages to companies that have no legal ability to deliver that title once the mortgage is paid off. I’m one of them. My title is clouded by MERS transactions, and now I’m a participant in the fraud, too, because if I admit I know there’s anything wrong with the title, I can’t legally sell my house. And don’t get me going on the title insurance business, one that is a complete fraud through and through, because not a one of them will pay for a title clouded by MERS shenanigans.

    For anyone preparing to fight for their house, start here: https://cloudedtitles.com/ There are many, many great websites (often based in Florida) about this and how to fight it, but Krieger’s is the only one that gives the reader a handbook about how to fight back. And it was through Krieger that I realized that every single one of these “bank loans” I was offered for my mortgage came not from my bank, but from a Wall Street scam shop. Worse, every mortgage out on the market still originates in Wall Street–there is NO SAFE MORTGAGE that will not cloud your title.

    I compare what has happened in the USA with what I know of buying property in other countries. We are a third world country by comparison.

  2. What is “value?”

    Is the “value” in having a clean, safe place to lay one’s head at night? Or is the “value” in the number of times a predator can reap an invisible harvest from someone’s desire to have a clean, safe place to lay one’s head at night?

    Is there anything left with “value?” It seems that most “things” are just a gallery of exploitation for someone with more resources than you or me.

  3. @LP Thanks for the thorough comment. Some really good information to f/u on re: clouded titles.

    One of the many things that I liked from Gottsdiener’s talk on BookTV was the emphasis on people taking control of the situation by organizing, learning about their rights, and then fighting back against the fraud and sham being perpetrated by the banks and the entire mortgage industry.

    You can watch the clip here.

    @JAB I think we need to reevaluate what value means. It certainly hasn’t created much in the way of value, or even ROI in ceding control to our corporate overlords.

    We need to take the power back; one way to do this is through local means.

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