LAS VEGAS: POOR, BLACK

Posted in Rants on March 11th, 2009 by Ed

There are over 3,110 counties in the United States, and last year 35 of them accounted for fully half of the home foreclosures and repossessions:

Goddamn you, California and Florida.

So what makes these areas so prone to foreclosures? Just speculating here, but they appear to fall into two broad categories: areas that are just economically devastated and areas that are sprawling, overbuilt trainwrecks. In other words, a healthy mix of places where people have no money and places where people were flipping houses to make a quick buck. The problem is there aren't too many of the former – only a few like Cleveland, Washington D.C., and…well, that's about it. The rest of these counties are among the fastest growing and most economically productive (pre-crisis) areas of the country: Las Vegas, Phoenix, Southern California, the Bay Area, Dallas, Central Florida…

You can see the source of my cognitive dissonance. The subprime crisis is supposed to be all about poor black people who borrowed money they couldn't repay (or, being shiftless as they are, refused to repay) because Democrats in Congress forced banks' hand with the CRA. Yet the nation's most impoverished areas aren't the ones glowing blue on this map. Instead we see the ones that led the way during the tech boom, the housing boom, the Iraq Defense Contracting Orgy boom, and the upper-class tax cuts boom. I can't say I have the spare time to do it at the moment, but it appears that if one assembled the data and created a model to test the relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and foreclosures, the rate of new home construction would prove quite significant.

Or perhaps I will find that Scottsdale and Anaheim are populated almost exclusively with poor, black homeowners with $600,000 mortgages.