Tag Archives | Housing

Wall Street Investors Buying Up Entire Neighborhoods In Poorer Areas

wall street

Wall Street investment firms are eager to become your new landlord. New York Times Dealbook reports:

Large investment firms have spent billions of dollars over the last year buying homes in some of the nation’s most depressed markets. The influx has been so great, and the resulting price gains so big, that ordinary buyers are feeling squeezed out. Nationwide, 68 percent of the damaged homes sold in April went to investors, and only 19 percent to first-time home buyers.

Wall Street played a central role in the last housing boom by supplying easy — and, in retrospect, risky — mortgage financing. Now, investment companies like the Blackstone Group have swooped in, buying thousands of houses in the same areas where the financial crisis hit hardest.

Blackstone, which helped define a period of Wall Street hyperwealth, has bought some 26,000 homes in nine states. Colony Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, is spending $250 million each month and already owns 10,000 properties.

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Have Prisons Become The Mass Housing Of Our Time?

Via Creative Time Reports, aerial photographer Christoph Gielen on prisons as the new housing boom:

Since 1980, when the U.S. prison population began to increase dramatically, Americans have been living in an era of mass incarceration, which Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has called one of the “greatest social experiments of our time.” The Spatial Information Design Lab, a think- and action-tank at Columbia University, goes so far as asking, “have prisons and jails become the mass housing of our time?”

I want to illustrate how prison design and architecture do in fact reflect political discourse, economic priorities, cultural sentiments and social insecurities, and how, in turn, these constructed environments also become statements about a society.

The opportunity to visually examine these restricted locations is significant; while some (low-resolution) satellite images of prison complexes are available in the public domain, the public cannot inspect Supermax facilities on the ground.

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Obama, Housing and the Next Big Heist

Picture: The Truth About (CC)

Mike Whitney writes at Counterpunch:

For those who missed President Obama’s latest giveaway to the Bank Mafia, we’ll repeat what he said here. This is an excerpt from Tuesday’s State of the Union Speech:

“Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.

But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates.

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Serbian Man Has Lived Inside Grave For 15 Years

Is the world of the living really any better than the world of the dead? The Daily Mail writes:

A homeless man has told how he began sleeping with the dead when he moved into a cemetery 15 years ago. Bratislav Stojanovic, 43, has shared the burial plot with the ashes of a a family who died out more than 100 years ago in Nis, Serbia. The family who owned the tomb is unknown as the names have eroded from the gravestone.

Mr. Stojanovic, who has never had a regular job, lost his home in town after running up debts. He moved into the grave and now spends his time foraging in the out-of-use cemetery for candles.

Mr. Stojanovic said that living with the dead isn’t as scary as some might think: “I was afraid in the beginning, but I got used to it in time. Now I am more afraid of the living than of the dead.”

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There Are 24 Empty Houses for Every Homeless Person in America

Homeless PeopleLloyd Alter writes on Treehugger:
That is what the census says. Andrew Leonard in Salon notes that it is a bit misleading, that "4.7 million are for "seasonal use" only, the Census tells us — unoccupied vacation homes, in other words. 4.1 million are for rent, 2.3 million are for sale, and the remaining 7.5 million "were vacant for a variety of other reasons." The census also lists the total number of homeless in America as 759,101, so there are 24 empty houses for every homeless person in America. What a shocking mis-allocation of resources, materials and energy ...
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Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? Turn Your House Into An Ad

The latest manifestation of the broken housing market and the thousands of homeowners who can’t afford their mortgage payments is an eye-grabbing advertising scheme from marketing company Brainiacs From Mars. If you let them paint your house like this…

brainiacsfrommarshome

… they’ll pay you up to $2,000 a month. Here’s the deal:

We’re looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We’re looking for homes to
turn into billboards. In exchange, we’ll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted.

Here are a few things we’re looking for. You must own your home. It cannot be rented or leased. We’ll paint the entire outside of the house, minus the roof, the windows and any awnings. Painting will take approximately 3 – 5 days. Your house must remain painted for at least one month and may be extended up to a year. If, for any reason, you decide to cancel after one month or if we cancel the agreement with you, we’ll repaint your house back to the original colors.

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WikiHouse: Design And Print Out A Home

wikihouse WikiHouse is an open source construction set from London architectural firm 00:/. Design a home, “print it out” with a CNC cutter, and assemble, without needing any training or power tools, even. TreeHugger explains:

Four years ago, I wrote:

Imagine ordering a custom house, connecting lightweight, manageable pieces without a crane, living in a house where the framing is furniture quality and you don’t even want to cover it with drywall. This is truly the future.

That future gets closer every day, and the future will be open sourced with WikiHouse.

You download the plans and cut them out on a CNC router, then bolt them together into a frame, which are set at 2 feet on centre. when you bolt on the exterior panels you have a rigid structure.

Anyone will be able to simply go into Google Sketchup, combine and adapt components, then hit “Make this house” and send instructions to the CNC router.

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Indian Company Produces Flat-Pack, $700 Houses

TataReports Agence France-Presse via Raw Story:
The Indian company that launched the world's cheapest car has unveiled its latest product for the fast-growing nation: a flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week. The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a pre-fabricated kit that includes doors, windows and a roof. "We have already prepared two-three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback," Sumitesh Das, the head of the project at Tata, told reporters in Hyderabad. "Hopefully, in the next six-eight months we should be able to roll it out in the market nationally." The basic model of a so-called "Nano" house will cost 32,000 rupees ($720) and will use coconut fibre or jute for wall cladding and interiors. It has a life expectancy of 20 years.
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