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Bo McCarver’s weekly housing news compilation – 8/6/2008

My friend and fellow houser Bo McCarver shares with the Texas housers blog the housing related stories from his weekly compilation of print media stories he calls “The Tuesday Report”. Bo’s report is posted here each Wednesday. If you want a pdf file of the articles that includes social, environmental and other contextual news stories, send me a comment with your email address and I’ll pass it on to Bo.

Over the years I have found Bo’s weekly news compilation invaluable in keeping up with what is happening with housing around the state and the nation.

Note that sometimes you must register with a newspaper web site in order to read the full article.

Here is Bo’s report….

The prognosis for the housing industry worsened this week as major players predict the situation will get worse before it gets better, maybe next year or the next. The recent housing bailout bill signed by Bush is predicted to have minimal effect.

Meanwhile, HUD has figured out how to end homelessness: redefine it. A rosy report that said homelessness had declined 29 percent has been picked apart by critics who found a manipulation of the definitive criteria for who is homeless. See the last two articles for details.

At Freddie Mac, Chief Discarded Warning Signs
By Charles Duhigg       New York Times     August 5, 2008
The chief executive of the mortgage giant Freddie Mac rejected internal warnings that could have protected the company from some of the financial crises now engulfing it, according to more than two dozen current and former high-ranking executives and others.

Big Housing Bill: No Rescue Soon
By Ron Scherer       Christian Science Monitor       August 1, 2008
NEW YORK – The $300 billion housing-rescue legislation that President Bush signed Wednesday is partly designed to pull some 400,000 homeowners out of foreclosure.

With more than 2 million foreclosures expected this year, who will be saved?
The short answer: This year, very few people.

Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults
By Vikas Bajaj        New York Times      August 3, 2008
The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building. Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.

Economists: Mortgage defaults to accelerate, peak in a couple of years
Associated Press       August 3, 2008
The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.

Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.

Mortgage applications hit 2008 low
The number of new mortgages applied for fell 14.1%, according to a weekly survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Associated Press      July 30, 2008
NEW YORK — Mortgage application volume tumbled 14.1% during the week ending July 25, hitting its lowest level of the year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly application survey.

Volume fell even though interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages retreated from sharp increases a week earlier.

Mortgage market hurting colonias, advocates say
McAllen Monitor      August 2, 2008
McALLEN – Problems in the housing and lending markets are making it harder for colonia residents to get loans.

So, community groups from across the nation met at the Border Community and Economic Development Summit in McAllen on Thursday to figure out how businesses can help colonias develop.

The National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders organized the event.

State’s U.S. Attorneys: Mortgage fraud top priority
By Mary Flood         Houston Chronicle       July 31, 2008
Prosecuting mortgage fraud is their top priority and it could keep defense attorneys busy for years to come, the four U.S. Attorneys who preside in Texas told a Houston audience .

“We all have the same initiatives, the policies all come from Washington, D.C., and right now mortgage fraud is No. 1,” Becky Gregory, the Beaumont-based U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, told about 50 lawyers munching their boxed lunches during a white-collar crime seminar at South Texas College of Law.

Out of FEMA Park, Clinging to a Fraying Lifeline
By Shaila Dewan       New York Times     August 3, 2008
BATON ROUGE, La. – Two months ago, as he left the trailer park he called home after Hurricane Katrina, Alton Love, 41, just knew he was on the brink of getting a working car, an apartment and a good job to support the 9-year-old daughter he is raising on his own.

Doris Fountain was in a comfortable hotel, waiting on a water heater and an air-conditioner for her once-flooded house in New Orleans.

Matthew Bailey had just received his first check – $48 – for selling diet products via the Internet, a source of income he insisted would ultimately pull in $5,000 to $20,000 a month.

Their plans, the fragile products of battered optimism, have been derailed by bureaucratic obstacles and the evacuees’ own tenuous abilities to cope.

Gas Prices May Revive Cities
Urban planners finally see a way to curb sprawl

By Bret Schulte      U.S. News & World Report       July 17, 2008
Andres Duany is thrilled by the prices he’s seeing at the gas pump. The urban planner and high priest of the New Urbanism movement sees today’s (and likely tomorrow’s) gas prices accomplishing what he and others in his field have long sought: a wholesale re-creation of the American lifestyle. “The urbanism of the United States has been premised on two things,” Duany says. “One is inexpensive land. And the other is inexpensive fuel. Both have led to sprawl.”

Dallas Housing Chief Resigns
Associated Press       July 31, 2008
The head of the beleaguered Dallas Housing Authority has resigned after a federal audit revealed nearly $20 million in suspicious rental assistance payments, which included money for 45 dead clients. The official, Ann Lott, the agency’s president and chief executive, had no comment after stepping down on Tuesday. Her resignation came after the agency’s board members met to discuss the audit and possible disciplinary action. The inspector general’s office of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development found that questionable disbursements included ineligible clients and duplicate payments to landlords, according to a draft report of the audit. Clients were also not reported to the federal government.

Area developers rushed to avoid new subdivision rules
By Gustavo Reveles Acosta       El Paso Times      August 1, 2008
EL PASO – Area developers avoided a tougher, more expensive subdivision ordinance by filing thousands of building permits – up to three years worth, according to one city representative – just days before the new law went into effect on June 1.

The process, known as vesting, allowed builders who file preliminary permits with the city before the new ordinance went into effect, to follow the previous subdivision code even construction has not yet begun.

Austonian developers say continuing sales prove rumors wrong
By Shonda Novak       Austin American-Statesman        August 01, 2008
Hoping to end rumors that the Austonian condominiums project is in trouble, the developer said Thursday that construction won’t stop until the $275 million, 56-story tower is completed in early 2010.

Rumors have circled that construction would halt when the first 10 floors – retail and parking levels – were completed. The developers held a press conference Thursday to mark the start of work on the 11th floor, where the first units will be.

Chronic homeless count down 30%, government says
Reduction from ’05 to ’07 may reflect changes in reporting

Rachel L. Swarns         New York Times       July 30, 2008
The number of chronically homeless people living in the nation’s streets and shelters has dropped by about 30 percent – to 123,833 from 175,914 – between 2005 and 2007, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

Numbers of homeless drop, but some question data
By Michael Amon      Newsday        July 30, 2008
A federal report yesterday said homelessness dropped dramatically from 2005 to 2007 across the country and on Long Island, but local advocates and county officials said the numbers are misleading.

I started my commitment to housing justice for people and communities with low incomes in 1975 in Austin's Clarksville community. These years of working side-by-side with dedicated community leaders to find solutions to housing and community development challenges have taught me some things and I’m learning new things every day.

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