community stories for southern Nevada

The Stories

Nevada ranks third in rate of delinquent commercial loans

Commercial real estate is tanking and could get worse, before it gets better, says Moody’s Investor Service.  Here’s a snip from a story from the Las Vegas Sun:

Moody’s Investors Service reported Tuesday that the delinquency rate on such loans nationwide hit 3.64 percent in September, up from just 0.54 percent one year ago.

Arizona, Michigan and Nevada led the nation with delinquency rates in September of 9.32 percent, 9.29 percent and 9.14 percent, respectively, Moody’s said.

“After tapering off for two months, the delinquency tracker appears to have resumed an upward trend as expected,” Moody’s Managing Director Nick Levidy said in a statement. “The delinquency rate is likely to continue moving higher over the next several months as troubles compound in the commercial real estate sector.”


Class action lawsuit on KNPR’s State of Nevada

KNPR’s State of Nevada did a program segment on the class action lawsuit being brought by Las Vegas Attorney Matt Callister. His clients claim they were defrauded by Indymac – the now defunct thrift that wrote a lot of subprime mortgages. It’s a good show. You can listen to the interview here:

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Mediation in home foreclosures ’slowing the process’

I suppose it all depends on what process we’re talking about here: the process of banks taking over the ownership of properties, or the process of homeowners sorting out whether they can save their homes from foreclosure. Here’s a snip from an article in the Review Journal:

Nevada’s mortgage foreclosure mediation program and similar programs in other states are delaying efforts to resolve problem loans, the top official at the Mortgage Bankers Association said today.

“We find it’s just slowing the process down,” said John Courson, chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Courson spoke during a conference call from the association’s annual convention in San Diego….

…Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas…disagreed with Courson’s statements.

She noted that one of the state’s first mediation sessions was avoided after the lender negotiated with the homeowner.

“In Nevada, we’re ground zero for foreclosure in the nation,” she said. “To me, foreclosure mediation is an opportunity for these Nevadans who have not been able to reach their lenders to sit across the table from them, Legislators wouldn’t be initiating this law if the lenders were working with homeowners.”

Before the mediation law, “people were getting foreclosed in their home without any communication between the lender and the borrower,” said Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas.


Saving the neighborhood

Last spring, Neal Williams put bars in front of his door; he started saving money for security cameras. He joked that soon, there would be a retinal scanner to get in and out of the house.

But the situation in his neighborhood is serious. Theft is on the rise…graffiti…broken windows…It all started going downhill two years ago, when foreclosures led to empty homes.

Over the past few months, the Williams family realized it was time to start knocking on doors and building new connections with strangers. Sometimes fighting for the neighborhood means extending a hand.

Listen to their story:

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williamscloser


Saving the Dream? NACA throws down big in Vegas

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I spent the whole weekend covering the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s event at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Here are the photos to prove it. Why are people coming in large numbers from Los Angeles to be a part of NACA’s loan modification event? Listen to the story here:

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It was, in some ways, an epic, biblical scene. Lines stretching from the Convention Center to the Renaissance Hotel. People sleeping on the ground. Citizens making a last-ditch effort to save their homes. There was so much in the way of good, neighborly vibrations among strangers, that it would have been a purely positive scene, if it were not for the desperation at hand. But perhaps those things–desperation and human decency–work hand in hand.

If you attended this event, we want to hear from you. If you purposely stayed away, we want to hear from you.

Tell your story

(photos by Crecia Page & Adam Burke)


State of Nevada: Looking beyond the decline…

…and learning from the rust belt.

We did a show on KNPR’s State of Nevada, looking at the ballooning need for social services in Nevada. The state’s unemployment rate recently hit 13.2% (it’s higher in Las Vegas). Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes. The state’s Health and Human Services Department estimates that by 2013, 1 in 5 Nevadans will be on food stamps.

So, if the boom times are gone, what can we learn from cities that faced a similar decline years ago? On this edition of State of Nevada, we talked with the dynamic, young mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, Jay Williams. Williams shared some of the things he’s been trying to accomplish in Youngstown, a city that’s been declining since the steel mill heyday of the 50’s and 60’s. 

Smaller is better? Jay Williams says yes. Listen to Mayor Williams offer a little advice to Oscar Goodman, and to the rest of our show, here:

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Ruling by judges rattles mortgage industry

From an article in the Las Vegas Sun:

A bankruptcy judge here, joining judges across the country, is throwing a bit of sand in the gears of the mortgage machine and its ruthless foreclosure blade.

She has raised this issue: In many home foreclosures springing out of bankruptcy proceedings, the foreclosure is being triggered by a representative of the lender — a surrogate that may not have a legal, equity stake in the proceedings.

As a result, it is conceivable — though still something of a legal long shot — that the homeowner who is filing for bankruptcy protection could end up saving his house.

The argument that a lender’s surrogate can’t trigger foreclosure has drawn notice of Nevada homeowners, who are preparing a class action lawsuit. They are seeking a preliminary injunction this month to stop their foreclosures.


Newly Poor in Nevada

Would you take the time to read this sign? Listen to the story here:

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not homeless


The morality of markets, or…er…lack thereof….

Today’s Marketplace feature an excellent interview with Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel. Sandel talked about the themes and ideas of his latest book, Justice: What is the Right Thing to Do?–specifically, a chapter called Morals and Markets.

Sandel talks about moral outrage people are feeling about the bank bailout, and I think he’d find lots of outrage right here in southern Nevada on that count. BLV would like to hear your perspective on this, so please tell your thoughts here.

Here’s the kicker from the interview:

SANDEL: You go up to someone on one of those street corners down by Wall Street. And you ask him or her in a quiet moment, “how do you justify this frenzied way of life that you’re engaged in?” I suspect they would give you in a reflective moment an answer something like this: “By pursuing gain and engaging in risk, we are providing the lubricant for the financial system and therefore for the economic system as a whole. And we are helping contribute to allocating capital to those projects and innovations in the economy that will make everybody better off.”

I’m not saying that every single trader on the floor would give you that answer, but I know some people who would. And that can be the starting point, I think, of a wider public conversation about the underlying moral purpose that markets serve. And once we have that conversation, we might also be led to discuss whether there are certain moral limits that markets should respect.

Listen to the entire interview here:


Seniors dipping into Social Security

Job losses have pushed seniors to claim early retirement benefits, the AP reports. And this snip from an article in the Money Times.

For the time, in close to three decades, the Social Security will be compelled to dole out more in benefits than it collects in taxes during the next coupe of years.

The reason is huge job losses and an increase in the early retirement claims from laid-off people. For the time, in close to three decades, the Social Security will be compelled to dole out more in benefits than it collects in taxes during the next coupe of years.

The reason is huge job losses and an increase in the early retirement claims from laid-off people.