WNPR

Housing and Homelessness

Housing issues affect everyone in Connecticut, from those who are searching for a safe place to live, to those who may find it increasingly difficult to afford a place they already call home.

With generous support from the Melville Charitable Trust, WNPR and Susan Campbell are covering Connecticut's housing and homelessness issues in a series that examines how residents are handling the challenges they face. We look at the trends that matter most right now, and tell stories that help bring the issues to light.

Contact Susan by email at slcampbell417 at gmail.com.

A Manhattan jury has held Bank of America liable for fraud related to bad loans its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the housing market soured.

The verdict was returned on Wednesday after several hours of deliberation in a month-long trial that focused on loans Countrywide completed in 2007 and 2008, as the housing crisis was already underway. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in 2008.

There were 1.9 percent fewer existing homes sold in September than in August, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

Chion Wolf

It’s town ranking season again, and whether or not you think rankings like this really matter, it’s interesting that Connecticut Magazine is changing things up a bit. Instead of grouping towns based on population, which tends to favor the Greenwichs, Westports and West Hartfords, the magazine grouped towns based on average home value. That puts small communities with more affordable housing at the top of the rankings (hello Colebrook and Barkhamsted).

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

A new report from the Partnership for Strong Communities, a housing advocacy organization, says that Connecticut continues to suffer from a lack of affordable housing.

Town Of Marlborough

The story of hundreds of thousands of dollars in missing insurance premiums in the city of Hartford continues to unravel. And the man at the center of the drama appears to have significant financial problems of his own: one of his homes now faces foreclosure.

When he was a student at Wesleyan University, Earl O'Garro felt like it was a crime to be rich. At least, that's what he said in an online profile posted a few years back

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

August saw a big boost in home sales in Connecticut, with 2,893 homes sold that month. It's the highest number of single family homes sold for that month in six years, up ten percent from the same month in 2012.

As with so many other types of economic activity, the government shutdown is causing more fear than actual harm in the housing market thus far.

But that doesn't mean things won't start going wrong in the very near future.

Various federal agencies play greater or lesser roles in real estate transactions. With most of them sidelined, simple matters such as closing on mortgages are becoming more complicated.

The Partnership for Strong Communities wants to know if you can find an affordable apartment in expensive Connecticut. Their new video game, Rent Roulette, allows you to role play. "Maybe you'll land a job that allows you to live where you want," they say. "But maybe, you’ll be like so many in our expensive state, and have to settle for something less." The game was designed by Ed Hogan of Manchester Community College, and includes real-time housing and labor data for Connecticut.

Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis

Economists at the University of Connecticut are calling on the state to use bonds that have been approved by the legislature but never issued. The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis forecast reports that if the state relies only on traditional drivers like the housing market to grow the economy, it could begin to lose jobs again in 2014.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it was suing Bank of America for allegedly lying to investors about the riskiness of about $850 million worth of mortgage-backed securities back in 2008.

According to a press release by the Justice Department, the action is part of efforts of the Obama administration's Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force's RMBS Working Group.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

It's been more than a half century since the state built two big public housing developments in Hartford -- nestled in neighborhoods that now include middle-class housing, the University of Hartford, and expensive single family homes. The housing developments are called Westbrook Village and Bowles Park. Over time, the units have grown too old and expensive to repair.

Marcin Wichary/flickr creative commons

Caroline Rob Zaleski’s research on the work of key figures in 2oth-century architecture, the relatively unknown aspects of their production, and their associations with clients, artists, and politicians chronicles a rich and little-known array of architecture on Long Island, a hotbed of modernism from the 1930s on. Zaleski documents the development of exurbia and the rise of visionary structures: residences for commuters and weekenders, public housing, houses of worship, universities, shopping centers, and office complexes, and she is our guest.

claudiasimsphotography

June is Homeownership Month and part of peak real estate season. The housing market across the nation is finally showing signs of improvement with signs up across the nation. But it is not the market it was before the 2008 crash.

Some real estate experts say the market hit bottom at 2011 and has been slowly climbing back. This means jobs in construction and other parts of the housing sector.

Still, some 40,000 people are delinquent on their mortgages across the state. And others simply cannot afford any of the options.

Back in the early 2000s, a group of mostly low-income African- American families took the city of New Haven to court. They were fighting to stay in their homes which were slated for demolition in order to build a new school complex. A documentary film airing tonight on CPTV tells their story.

"My house is paid for. I’ll never have to pay another mortgage no more in life. It's not much, but its mine."

Fair housing advocates are celebrating a victory. They recently won a settlement from a Hartford-area landlord who allegedly denied apartments to people using public assistance to pay their rent. The Connecticut Fair Housing Center claimed the landlord, Paul Rosow, discriminated against people who received disability checks and housing assistance.

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