The housing crisis is America’s most urgent economic problem, but until now, it’s been the farthest from policymakers’ minds.
A recent article on Salon reports that the Occupy movement is planning to begin a nationwide action protesting the foreclosure crisis. Whatever your views of the movement itself, they are casting a bright light on the place where capitalism, our democracy, and our society have all failed: the housing crisis.
The financial crisis effectively started with the housing crisis, and it will not end until we find a way to resolve the housing crisis. Economists who have repeatedly forecast a healing economy have misjudged the need for a healthy housing market as a central component for any type of economic recovery. The administration’s current plans for preventing foreclosures are woefully inadequate and housing prices are likely to decline as much as 20 percent this year, so our nation’s cycle of economic misery will continue.
Since the mortgage meltdown begin in 2007, six million homes have been lost to foreclosure. At present, another four million homes are at some stage of the foreclosure process. As the New York Times recently reported, one of the nation’s leading housing analysts anticipates that a “staggering” total of more than 10 million of the nation’s existing 55 million mortgages are “reasonably likely to default.” Another recent article noted, “If the U.S. foreclosure crisis were a baseball game, we’d probably be in the bottom of the fourth inning.” This national tragedy is a long way from over.