Home > US mortgage crisis forces homeowners to take refuge in their cars

US mortgage crisis forces homeowners to take refuge in their cars

by Open-Publishing - Sunday 25 March 2007

Edito Un/Employment Logement Poverty-Precariousness USA


THEY are victims of the United States’ growing mortgage crisis - low-paid workers whose homes have been repossessed amid rising interest rates, a stagnant property market and a lax lending regime.

But in Los Angeles, where having a car is as essential as owning a home, many are sleeping in their vehicles to ensure a roof over their head.

Campaigners for the homeless expect more to hole up in their cars as they lose homes due to the problems that have dogged "subprime mortgages" - those granted to low-earners with little capital of their own.

The trend comes despite the fact that sleeping in a car is illegal in the Los Angeles area.

"The subprime meltdown is the kind of situation that pushes people into cars. It’s a very common story," said Ruth Hollman, of Self-Help And Recovery Exchange, a group that helps homeless people.

Advocates hope Los Angeles will adopt programmes in place in cities such as Eugene, Oregon, and Santa Barbara, California, that enable people to live in cars while receiving services they need to get back on track.

"It’s an old saying in social services that most people are one to six paychecks away from being homeless. But if you can’t make your mortgage, it’s more like a month or two," said William Wise, of the relief agency St Vincent de Paul of Eugene, which works to find overnight parking spots for homeless people.

Without such spots, people forced to sleep in their cars fear being towed and ticketed by police, as well as being attacked by thugs and facing public scorn.

Emily Love, 61, was sleeping in her car in Marina Del Rey, California, when two youths smashed her windscreen with a shopping trolley. A week later, she was back in the car.

After her car was attacked, the former teacher sat staring at the shattered glass. "I don’t like to talk to the cops. They don’t like people sleeping in their cars," she said in her car crammed with her possessions, including two cats.

Government figures say there are about 754,000 homeless people in the US, about 300,000 more than available beds in shelters and transitional housing.

Many of the temporarily homeless get into deeper trouble because they try to keep it quiet and do not seek help.

Philip Mangano, of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, said he strongly opposed programmes that sanction living in cars.

"It’s a national tragedy that we are resorting to these plans. It doesn’t measure up to the promise of America," he said.

Mr Mangano has been working with cities to develop ten-year plans to end vagrancy through a new business- oriented approach that has cut homelessness in cities such as San Francisco and Philadelphia.

The number of people living in cars is hard to calculate, but Ruth Hollman said a recent estimate of 1,000 in Los Angeles was far below the actual figure. She said some people living in their cars pay gym memberships so they can shower, and attend training courses or have jobs. "One man I know goes to college and people there don’t even know he’s homeless," she said.


Forum posts

  • I have said it before, "Get out of debt, even if you have to give the stuff back to the lenders. "Our society has turned into stuff based Madison Avenue scheme and scam. Pay cash or don’t buy.

  • get ready for a TON of forclosures when you have predator lending from banks that sell loans on ARMs that readjust every 6 months a lot of folks are just going to walk from there homes.

  • The American government set these people up to fail.

    The intent of the Bush elitist/fascist government is to bring down the middleclass. They seem to think it’s a crime paying middleclass Americans decent wages and offering company paid benefits or for anyone to receive any type of Social aid, Social Security, Medicare, VA Benefits and/or Medicaid . The elite want every American working for $8 an hour with no benefits. They want all money going to investment banking, company owners, stock holders and executives. There is no if’s, ands or buts the upper 1% of America wants it all… at the expense of the other 99%.

    These same elite fascists want “your children” in the military to be maimed and die, while fighting Israels Middle East War, while theirs bask on a Riviera Beach or attend summer camp. These elitist own military service contracting concerns, armament manufacturing companies, investment banking, world banks and big oil. The elitist want all your money, your tax money and control of Americans Government while they focus on gaining total control of world and investment banking.

    I believe an old Jewish proverb says “He who controls the gold, controls everything”

    Americans continue to be blind and ignorant of what really goes on, politically, in America. They focus on more important stuff such as sunbathing, baseball, football, a quick lunch or dinner at McDonald, Applebee’s or Subway. Then trotting on over to Wal Mart or Target for some real important shopping. They spend hours on cell phones calling all those important friends.

    Americans are way to busy, busy, busy…. no time left for checks on freedom, Democracy or world affairs.

  • I notice that one HUGE factor driving this collapse in the housing market is NOT mentioned in this article. The fact that vast numbers of these so-called subprime home loans are to illegal aliens who can’t pay on the mortgages anymore. So they solve that problem the same way they solve every other problem they have. They split and abandon the property. Thing is, the corrupt lending institutions who commited these crimes(lending to felons) don’t take the hit, we, meaning the US economy, do. As per fucking usual.

    You’ll notice that this story is about LA. The town where they encourage illegal aliens, roll out every red carpet you can think of for illegal aliens, and where most of the population is composed largely of the human flotsam from Mexico. I say let ’em stew in their own stupidity.

    • I would put forth another view in line with the elite-devils want it all-see above. The federal reserve creates money from thin air, it has no value so it is easily lent-not coming from actual toil and sweat. The bankers steal the toil and sweat exchanged for paycheck money by entering huge amounts on a computer and calling it a loan. If the person defaults, they (bankers) get their equity back and after all, if they don’t offer loans they get NOTHING! If you toil and sweat and put a $1000 under the bed, 10 years later it won’t buy shit because the total amount of dollars floating around has increased dramaticly (more dollars chasing the same amount of product=price goes up). When really everyone deserves to own a house who works 40hours a week. I should know as I can build a 1000sqft. simple stick frame for about $35K in materials, taking no more than 6 months labor (1 guy), brand new(US)! Having a large population fighting over wages, terror alerts, housing, etc. is good for you if YOU are a fat cat looking for cheap labor. In scandinavia they have the highest standard of living in the world (average wage-$26/hr.). How come nobody hears about their lifestyle, or europes slightly less but better than ours lifestyle? Their is no border enforcment even though any terrorist can walk across easily because it provides cheap labor, providing competition for jobs-period. You’ve got to think new world order, one world government, no borders-ONE BANK< ONE ARMY<ONE TAX<total fascism.

    • You put forth all the rosy points of a totalitarian NWO state with no borders, cheap labor, blah, blah, bla. You however don’t highlight the down sides. No choice, total control cradle to grave of every aspect of our lives, TOTALITARIANISM. I submit that fences make good neighbors. The US and Canada will be expected to carry mexico’s freight forever while all the illegal aliens have been trained that the world in the US owes them a living, while they are never expected to behave in an adult fashion and be responsible for their actions. The picture perfect NWO absolutely requires everyone behaving in a certain way to be sucessful, which will NEVER happen in the real world.

  • People should probably start buying bigger cars.........................