American Nightmare


In the February issue of In These Times, Adam Doster reported that, despite being a predatory trap, millions of Americans rely upon credit cards to meet basic needs in a rapidly unaffordable economy, (see "Killer Credit"). Doster points out that the instant security of plastic in your wallet is only partially what is driving Americans into their ever-deepening, labrynthine tunnels of debt. One of the other major traps? The promise of owning a home. "The housing bubble," writes Doster, "pushed prices through the roof, leading to the doubling of median mortgage debt from 1989 to 2004." Foreclosures were imminent, (something In These Times predicted back in 2003), and in only the first few months of this year we've witnessed a massive spate of 'em.In northern Minneapolis today, it gets worse. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the legacy of the housing-bubble burst extends beyond the pain of foreclosure: one-third of the vacated houses in northern Minneapolis are now being condemned. And, according to local community leaders, that estimate is low:Some houses have caving retaining walls. One otherwise nice triplex was covered in mold, Olson said.One reason for the neglect, Olson said, is that about two-thirds of the foreclosed homes were owned by investors rather than occupants. "Some of that has not been very well taken care of," she said.Olson's one-third estimate sounds low to one neighborhood leader, Roberta Englund of the Folwell and Webber-Camden areas."I think she's underestimating it, without a doubt," said Englund, based on her walk-throughs of similar housing."This is an American nightmare," said Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Ellison represents the area and organized a discussion of foreclosure and credit issues Monday.American nightmare, indeed.

In These Times August 2022 Cover
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