NYT: Keep People in Their Homes

From the pages of today’s New York Times come two articles on the struggles of millions of Americans who are worried about staying in their homes. The first, from the editorial page, argues that there has been "Only Half a Bailout" and echoes a call made by NDN over a month ago to keep people in their homes. The second, by David Leonhardt, ponders some of the pros and cons of doing just that.

From the Editorial Page:

The unfortunate reality is that as long as millions of Americans continue to default on their mortgages and housing prices continue to slide, banks will continue to suffer big losses. Unless something is done quickly to help American homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes, those losses could swamp the bailout effort by exceeding the sums being spent to rescue the banks.

Despite the danger posed by foreclosures — to the bailout, homeowners, taxpayers and the economy — the Bush administration and Congress are still depending on banks and other participants in the mortgage industry to voluntarily modify troubled loans, say, by giving borrowers more time to pay or by reducing interest rates.

The voluntary approach hasn’t been enough to stanch foreclosures. As things now stand, some 3.2 million homeowners will likely lose their homes to foreclosure this year and next, and millions more will struggle to catch up on delinquencies. Vacancies and defaults will continue to push house prices down; they have already fallen by 20 percent nationwide and are now expected to fall by at least another 10 percent. There is no time to waste to reverse the spiral.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have recognized that this crisis won’t be solved until a way is found to keep many more Americans in their homes.

The editorial goes on to explain detailed options of the Obama and McCain plans, as well as other potential options. The most important point is that homes are the assets at the bottom of this financial cave-in. If foreclosures continue, so will the meltdown. For more on NDN’s Keep People in Their Homes campaign, click here.