Mortgage on America

Mortgage on America

Mortgage on America

Mortgage on America

Excerpt

Uninhabitable slums, exploited suburbs, chewed-up countryside, poisoned air and water, high taxes and declining public services, inflated land and housing prices, economic and racial segregation-- these symptoms of the spreading cancer in urban America are recognized by almost everyone. Yet there are those who look at the sprawl and decay of our cities and see in them golden opportunity: the opportunity to make big money, often very quickly, and to protect from taxation the money they already have.

These people are land speculators, developers, builders, realtors, landlords, bankers, and other real estate investors of all kinds, from millionaires and giant corporations to many millions of ordinary homeowners. To all of them the foreboding megalopolis of the urban critic's nightmare is really profitopolis : a promised land of windfall profits, capital gains, mortgage interest, and tax benefits.

Too often, when these people gain, others stand to lose. Blockbusters make their quick profits frightening some families out of their homes, buying the houses, and reselling them at inflated prices to others, who are desperate for a place to live but often unable to maintain either their high mortgage payments or their homes. Slum landlords, operating mostly on bank credit, take over deteriorating houses and apartments and collect excessive rents as long as they can, spending nothing on maintenance until the buildings fall into irreversible decay and are eventually abandoned. Big developers, often with government backing, bite large chunks out of still healthy neighborhoods, level the housing there, and throw up . . .

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