Bo McCarver’s weekly housing news compilation, 1-3-2012

As desperate families jostle for position in lines for public housing, Congress slashes federal housing programs by $3.8 billion. The housing shortage pre-dated the mortgage crisis and now the nationwide housing shortage is estimated at 3.5 million homes.

For a pdf. version of the full articles, plus contextual stories on social, environmental and legal issues, contact Bo McCarver at bmccarver@austin.rr.com

The Unfathomable Cuts in Housing Aid

By Patrick Markee        The Nation       January 2, 2012

For an up-close view of the affordable housing crisis—which predated the mortgage-driven financial crisis of 2008 but has deepened since then into a full-blown national emergency—one place to be was the Jesse Owens Memorial Complex in the Red Bird neighborhood of Dallas. There, in the early morning hours of a typically scorching day this past July, thousands of impoverished Texans lined up for a chance to get on a waiting list for federal housing assistance, the first time in five years that the county government had accepted applications. Back in May another 21,000 people had applied for a shot at 5,000 spots on the Dallas Housing Authority’s waiting list—still better odds than in nearby Plano, where 8,000 people applied for only 100 available housing vouchers.

Similar gatherings, with similar casinolike odds, have occurred around the country with a sort of stealthy frequency. In Oakland, California, which opened its waiting list in January, officials expected as many as 100,000 people to apply for 10,000 vouchers. In Atlanta, sixty-two people were injured in 2010 at an East Point shopping center where 30,000 lined up after the local housing authority opened its waiting list for the first time in eight years. Even small communities like Aiken, South Carolina, saw hundreds queuing up in October for a chance at housing aid about as likely as seeing three cherries in a row on a Vegas slot machine.

Full story at: http://www.thenation.com/article/165161/unfathomable-cuts-housing-aid

Texas man to plead guilty in foreclosure scam

Associated Press         January 2, 2012

A Lakeway man accused of participating in a scam that collected $1.6 million and caused the delay of more than 1,100 foreclosures has agreed to plead guilty to the charges.

According to court documents reported in the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/sukHgv) on Monday 53-year-old Frederic Alan Gladle will plead guilty Friday. He faces up to seven years in prison.

Gladle is accused of charging clients about $750 a month to delay foreclosure on their property.

Gladle’s associates would have them transfer a share of their property to the company. Those shares would be transferred to an unrelated person who had filed for bankruptcy and was unaware of the transaction. Bankruptcy proceedings automatically delay foreclosure.

In this way, prosecutors say Gladle collected $1.6 million from clients and delayed more than 1,100 foreclosures.

End of story: http://lufkindailynews.com/news/state/article_0c5b391e-06dc-5705-953b-511cb50ef37f.html

Signs point to healthier Central Texas housing market in 2012, experts say

By Shona Novak      Austin American-Statesman        December 30, 2011

The new year should usher in a healthier Central Texas housing market, experts say, thanks to job and population growth, high apartment occupancies and an anticipated uptick in consumer confidence.

Although 2011 home construction is down more than 60 percent from the region’s 2006 peak, homebuilders say they expect 2012 to be better. Heightened demand and a scarcity of lots to build on in some areas will lead to rising home prices, “setting the stage for a housing recovery in Austin,” said Eldon Rude, director of the Austin market for Metrostudy, which tracks and forecasts the region’s housing market.

Higher prices, Rude said, will be “the key to the rebound in Austin’s housing market.”

“When home prices in Austin begin to increase again, families that have been waiting to buy will feel more confident that purchasing a home is a good financial decision, and at that point we will see more sales in the market,” he said.

Charles Heimsath, president of Capitol Market Research, an Austin-based real estate consulting firm, predicted that home prices could rise by 5 percent or more “in the most desirable areas” and remain at least stable across the region.

Full story at: http://www.statesman.com/business/signs-point-to-healthier-central-texas-housing-market-2067020.html

Homeless men talk about their lives on Lufkin’s streets

Police spokesman says number of homeless may not be up, but number of complaints about panhandlers is

By Jessica Cooley        Lufkin News        January 2, 2012

A one-room tent sitting on a damp spot of ground and a plastic sack pantry hanging in a nearby tree — it’s not much, but to Dane Eckman it’s home.

While he may not look it, the 42-year-old has spent the last seven years living on the streets and now calls a wooded area next to a Lufkin park home. He’s hoping the briars and underbrush will protect his home from camp raiders and the authorities. His last spot, deep in the woods behind Grace Dunn Richardson Park, was discovered by Lufkin Police two weeks ago. The officer cited him for camping in the park. In his new refuge, Eckman said, so far the only intruders he has to worry with come on four legs — raccoons, opossums and armadillos.

Full story at; http://lufkindailynews.com/news/local/article_9f73c9c2-334f-11e1-850f-0019bb2963f4.html