July 17, 2010

(Scene from Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story.)

A new report predicts more than 1 million American households will lose their homes due to foreclosure:

Nearly 528,000 homes were foreclosed in the first six months of 2010. As lenders work through a huge backlog of borrowers behind on their mortgages, even more home repossessions could occur before the end of the year.

According to RealtyTrac, Inc., a foreclosure listing service, the number of households facing foreclosure in the first half of the year climbed 8 percent when compared to the same time frame last year. In June, 1 in every 411 households received a foreclosure filing.

The fastest growing group of foreclosures involved homeowners with good credit who took out conventional fixed-rate loans. Many of these borrowers have fallen behind in their mortgages due to unemployment or reduced income.

It takes about 15 months for a home loan to go from being 30 days late to the property being seized and sold. Between January and June of this year, about 1.7 million homeowners received a foreclosure-related warning. At the time of this writing, more than 7.3 million home loans are in some stage of delinquency. The states experiencing the highest foreclosure rates are California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona and Nevada.

As Atrios points out, the HAMP program has been worse than a failure, because it prolonged the agony for homeowners and most of them lost their homes, anyway. "All carrot and no stick," as this blogger calls it. (Which seems to sum up the adminstration's attitude toward bankers in general.)

I was in the neighborhood pizza restaurant last night, and several of the diners were talking about unemployment extensions. Like most people, they're confused about the difference between next week's vote on unemployment extension, and Tier 5 benefits -- which Congress won't touch. They're hoping "someone will do something," because the alternative is too unthinkable.

The staff is worried, too. The pizza cook is an accountant with three kids who can't find anything above minimum wage. "When I've gotten an interview, I'm going up against people with ten years' experience and MBAs -- for jobs that pay $10 an hour," he told me. "I just don't know what I'm going to do."

And the delivery guy, a former IT programmer, is worried sick about his wife, who has COPD and internal bleeding they can't locate. They've been going to the local federally-funded public health center. "The doctors there are good, but they get a little antsy when you need a specialist," he said. "My unemployment runs out in September, and she's the only steady paycheck coming into the house."

He told me he has this idea for an invention, that when he was working, he invested $1000 in getting designs made. But now? "I need another ten thousand to move forward, and there's no way in hell I can ever afford that without a job," he said.

He paused. "Let alone a house. I just don't know what we're gonna do."

And in stark contrast to the burdens carried by these decent, hard-working people, Americans who got the education and prepared themselves to be self-sufficient, stand the just plain mean denizens of Beck Nation. A friend of mine was looking in a store yesterday and told the owner she wouldn't be buying anything just yet because she was unemployed. The woman snapped, started wagging a finger in her face and told her she "shouldn't be here, you should be out looking for a job!"

"Practically snarling at me," my friend told me. "Can you imagine?" Yes, I can.

How are we ever going to bridge this divide? You just can't leave this many people without help, but the politicans are mostly spineless. What is going to happen to us?

Can you help us out?

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