Baltimore Feeling The Pain Of The Housing Slump

The housing bubble was powering a revival in Baltimore, says the NYT, but the recent turmoil in the credit markets and a spike in foreclosures may have cut the party short.

In the spring quarter, 25 percent of the foreclosures were in the city itself. The numbers are up even in Belair Edison, a stable working-class neighborhood of neat, two-story row houses adjacent to a picturesque wooded public park.

The homes are occupied mostly by teachers, police officers, firefighters, shop owners, university workers and similarly employed wage earners. Some had originally taken on standard fixed-rate mortgages and then, to save money or take out equity, had gotten into trouble by refinancing at variable rates, according to Mark Sissman, president of Healthy Neighborhoods, a nonprofit organization that helps homeowners.

“They were offered loans that in some cases did not require them to escrow for taxes and insurance, and they took them,” Mr. Sissman said, “and then they wake up with a six-month tax bill and if they can no longer refinance, they are in trouble.”

Several nonprofit groups have stepped up assistance to families in trouble, helping them renegotiate loans or, if necessary, sell their homes so they will not be left empty, starting the deterioration that can turn a neighborhood into a slum.

For Baltimore, Housing Slump Slows a Revival
(Photo:Dennis Drenner for The New York Times)

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  1. Slothrob says:

    It’s sad, for a few years it really looked like Baltimore might stand a chance. Even at the height of the bubble though, you were never more than a few blocks from boarded up houses.

  2. Baltimore has always been described to me as a web of gentrified streets weaving through what is otherwise slums. Which meant that for gentrification to have actually gotten anywhere, it would have taken a lot of it.

    Contrast with D.C., where land close to the urban center is in such short supply that minorities are getting shoved further and further into Maryland.

  3. JMH says:

    Could we have some of the “housing slump” here in NYC, please?

  4. chubba-baby says:

    I am still confused about if and why I should feel some sense of tragedy/despair for those who are unaware or unwilling to plan for the expenses that go along with owning a home.

    I’ve had to pay my fair share as a homeowner, and since moving (ironically) to Baltimore, have had to rent- why? b/c the housing is so stinkin’ expensive here (though it’s coming down!)

    Belair/Edison won’t deteriorate into slums- all that will happen is people from DC will snap up the homes and fix up an area that’s just fine already.

    I guess I should feel bad, as some people did get taken for a ride by unscrupulous lenders- though it sounds like this is not the case in the story.

  5. theblackdog says:

    Could this “housing slump” please hit DC? Maybe then I can try to afford a condo.

  6. Jon Parker says:

    I moved into Baltimore City from Howard County in March. I’m renting by choice — partially because I’m leery of buying in this market.

    I do like living here — it’s a great town in many ways. I’m ten minutes walk from the harbor, two minutes walk from a public market, and there’s lots of stuff to do.

    But I’m a little worried. There’s a rowhouse across the street in my gentrified neighborhood that’s been on the market since I moved in.

  7. stavs says:

    @JMH: Just move to Allentown like the rest of the New York scum that we get here.

  8. Sasquatch says:

    Don’t blame the housing slump. It could be the fault of how Marlow Stanfield is running those corners.

    *crickets*

    Seriously, is no one watching “The Wire”?!

    @stavs: I moved out of the Lehigh Valley about 5 years ago. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of the “scum” you refer to is homegrown.