I'd like to tip my hat to the excellent discussion led by Ethan D'Onofrio on the Economics of Scarcity. I read through the discussion, and really wanted to contribute with my current insights and collection of information about the government's programs to help people rework or refinance their mortgages. Ethan's discussion appeared to be coming to an end, and I also realized that I hope to center this discussion around the program mentioned above, and around what our housing is costing us in terms of our labor, productivity and the idea of local economies. I am already feeling the "Economics of Scarcity" and I think the collective wisdom and honesty of many people could help to make for an interesting, and perhaps solution-oriented discussion.
The cost of real estate and how it was changing was a major topic of conversation for a couple of years - and most everyone I knew was involved in it to some extent.
Now, here we are after the financial crash, many of us "underwater" (paying more for our home than it is worth), or if we made home improvements, or depended on the equity in our home to meet basic needs because of life changes, have increased our housing costs beyond what we can sustain.
In our household, our income went down by 50% from 2007 to 2008. Employed in areas related to either the luxury or boom economy, it has been challenging to transition to a new personal economy. I started a company that plants trees and removes noxious weeds, and my husband went to work at the Food Coop. A huge change in our household economy that is satisfying in terms of the connections to land and community, but now our housing costs are not in line with our incomes.
So get a loan modification, you may suggest. Are the government programs working? I've included a link to a NY times article published on January 2nd, which is the heart of what I want to discuss.
Ready to be "eased out" of your house? The other big message is that the federal programs are not working, because the mortgage servicing companies won't allow them to work. In general they have set up road block after road block to helping people. This has been my experience. If others are interested in discussing this online, or perhaps getting together to figure out some other options besides being "eased out" I am interested in bringing a variety of people together to talk about different options. I am also wondering how many others are experiencing this, who have actually entered or who are applying for a modification and what they have experienced.
The social customs that keep us from talking honestly and openly about financial problems keeps us from understanding that we might be at the forefront of an opportunity, or even a movement. I am encouraging myself and others to be open in this area, deal with the feelings, and keep coming up with creative solutions - definitely outside the box.
Then there are the larger questions....When you hear reports of the potential numbers of foreclosures rising this year and next, primarily because the assistance is not working, what does this mean for our communities? How do we pro-actively make the best decisions for ourselves and how do we transition into a new economy? So what I see is, from my point of view, Transition is happening here and now - not at some point in the future as suggested by Ethan. We also know it is happening in other parts of the world now that are more affected by climate change. How do we move towards our collective vision gracefully and intentionally?