community stories for southern Nevada

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Marcy Kaptur says “When the bank comes to take it away…”

Stay in your homes:

  

Also, let’s play Wall Street Bailout:

 


Renters fight an uphill battle in Nevada

We’ve  heard many many stories about homeowners struggling to save their homes, to negotiate with lenders, to sort out whether or not to walk away. In this two-part series, we ask: what about renters. It turns out renters have been caught in the middle of the foreclosure crisis, and they’ve had the least to do with the mess, they’ve been affected quite dramatically by the fallout. And mistreatment of renters in southern Nevada, by lenders, by third party proxies, by landlords, appears to be on the rise.

Listen to the two-part series…

Part I is the story of a man who is trying to answer a seemingly simple question…who changed the locks on his rental condo? Hear his story:

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Part II…This year, legislators enacted a number of laws which give renters some more traction. How effective are these new laws, and where are they falling short?

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Shalis Front Door

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Nevada is number one!…er….never mind…

Powerful graphic demonstrates Nevada’s housing sitch: 1 in 23 homes received a foreclosure filling in the third quarter of 2009.

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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)


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:


Where Are They Now? Looking in the rearview mirror at the “Giant Pool of Money”

(belonginglasvegas.org wants to hear from you….yes, you. How have your circumstances changed over the past year? Have things gotten better or worse? How are you coping with the changes in your life, or with changes you see in your neighborhood?  Send us a little about your story, here….)

Leave it journalists to have a nostalgic look back at…well, just about everything. But seriously, the folks at NPR’s Planet Money are following up with several of the folks who they profiled a year ago in their effort to tell the story of the biggest financial mess in recent memory.

A little over a year ago, NPR and This American Life partnered on a series of stories that would explain the mortgage crisis. They called it the “Giant Pool of Money”, and you can listen to the original This American Life program here. The program they made had such a big impact, that NPR/TAL ended up creating a team at NPR focused on money and finance, called Planet Money.

This past week, the Planet Money team revisisted many of the folks who they interviewed for that first show–people we have come to see as archetypes in the mortgage crisis: borrowers, subprime lenders, and those who created the complex financial instruments which repackaged debt in a way that hid the risk of that debt.

You can hear some of these characters…two of the borrowers are here:

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An update on subprime lender Glen Pizzalaruso, who was making $100K a month at the height of the crisis, is here:

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Fantasy loan-mod football

Last week I blogged about Bobbi Giguere, the 41 year-old single mom who had the unusual opportunity to grill a Wells Fargo Exec in court about her stalled loan modification. Giguere had been working “through the system” for months, and getting nowhere (…well, she was actually headed somewhere….While Wells Fargo strung her along, the company was simultaneously moving to foreclose on her home…!) At her wits end, Giguere wrote to her bankruptcy judge and ended up getting to do what thousands of frustrated consumers can only dream about. Confront someone in charge:

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Bobbi Giguere joined us today on KNPR’s State of Nevada to continue the conversation. We were also joined by Nevada Bankers Association president Bill Uffelman, and Bill Buzenberg, Executive Director of the Center for Public Integrity:

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Drops from the ocean, into the bucket. New jobs in Las Vegas….

With unemployment 13.4%, any new jobs in Vegas are good jobs in Vegas. Last week, we heard about the bleak prospects on KNPR’s State of Nevada–a discussion with two LA Times writers about people who are currently looking for work in Las Vegas.

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But yesterday in Vegas we had a little bit o’ good news: A story about the chosen few among some 160,000 applicants who went after jobs at city center. On hand at the MGM Mirage press event were (of course) select hires, including 23 year-old Mollie Ehrman. Ehrman was profiled in yesterday’s Las Vegas Sun article about the new hires.

Ehrman received a job offer for a salon receptionist position at Aria at CityCenter’s employment center. The recent college graduate and soon-to-be Ohio transplant has been working at an Ohio department store, but today marks the start of her first “big girl job,” as she called it.

“Everything’s changing,” Ehrman said “Everything’s brand new.”

CityCenter began making employment offers to hundreds of workers Monday in preparation for the project’s opening later this year, bringing hope to those who have been unemployed and new opportunities for others looking to make a change.

The $8.5 billion complex on the Las Vegas Strip was extending offers to between 500 and 700 people on Monday. Most employees filling the remainder of the 12,000 jobs will receive offers of employment by the end of the month.

 


Vegas jobless rate hits a new record…

…of 13.4%…Yikes!

Add to that number the estimated underemployed people in the city, and it’s likely that one-quarter of Las Vegas working people are struggling to make ends meet.

Yesterday on State of Nevada, we talked about the human cost of a city full of people looking for work. And the contrast between now and yesterday, when Las Vegas was a wellspring of employment opportunity. Guests included a pair of LA Times writers, and I played interview tape from a job fair at the Hard Rock Casino in June. The desperation among many in line was palpable then. I can only imagine what it is now.

You can listen to the segment here. And we’d love it, if you’d share your story of looking for work here.

And here’s a snip from an article on the new jobless rate in today’s Las Vegas Sun:

The jobless rate in the Las Vegas area continued at a record pace in August with unemployment in the gaming and construction industries on the rise.

The department said the unemployment rate in the Las Vegas area reached 13.4 percent with an estimated 135,100 workers out of a job. That surpasses the record 13.1 percent set in July.

The state’s unemployment rate rose to 13.2 percent with an estimated 182,600 persons jobless.

“Taken as a whole, conditions have deteriorated markedly,” says William Anderson, chief economist for the state’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.


This morning on KNPR’s State of Nevada

Las Vegas has the worst housing market in the country; casinos and construction companies are slashing jobs. Among the thousands of Californians who flocked to Las Vegas during the boom times, many are now headed home. And thousand of un (or under) employed people are scouring the city to find work.

Today, producer Adam Burke joined Dave Berns on SoN, as part of KNPR’s continuing coverage of the economy in southern Nevada, and the continuation of our series: Belonging Las Vegas.

We discussed the current state of employment (and unemployment) with Ashley Powers and Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times. They wrote an excellent two-part series on the economic meltdown in southern Nevada. She focused on the people who are looking for work in Vegas, in a piece called: Vegas Dreamers Go All In. A follow-up story on the Vegas economy, is called Luck runs out on Vegas boom.

Adam shared some of the stories he’s been hearing from people who are desperately looking for work, and played audio he gathered at a job fair at the Hard Rock Casino in June.

The segment ran between 10 and 10:30 am PST. You can listen here:

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Buyer beware-hidden fees in empty homes

We’ve heard about angry homeowners who trash a place when the bank forecloses…some pour cement poured down toilets, strip oput plumbing and fixtures, punch holes in the walls…..In yesterday’s R-J, an article on the potential hidden costs and fees in buying a foreclosed home.

Michael Evans bought the bank-owned fourplex near Monroe Avenue and H Street at an auction without seeing it first.

The condition of the property might have scared off other investors, but he has been rehabbing and renting out property for a long time…..

…Then he ran into something new.

“I thought everything was great until the letter came in the mail,” Evans said.

The letter, from the city of Las Vegas, informed him that a previous, neglectful owner had racked up more than $60,000 in fees and fines because the city had to hire someone to board up the building and pick up trash.


Judges’ Frustration Grows With Mortgage Servicers

The New York Times writes about a woman who was given the runaround from her lender. And she decided to go to the mat–in court. Last week, an angry judge gave her an opportuntiy to grill her lender’s attorneys in court…article is here.

Bobbi Giguere had no luck in securing a loan modification from her mortgage servicer, Wells Fargo. For months, she had sent the bank the financial documents it requested to process her modification. But each time she called to check on the request, she was told to send her paperwork again.

 “I submitted the paperwork three times, and nothing happened,” said Mrs. Giguere, 41, who has a high school education and worked as restaurant manager before losing her job.

On Thursday, something happened. She questioned a Wells Fargo official about the bank’s lack of response — under oath.

The spectacle of a high-ranking banking executive being grilled by an ordinary homeowner was the result of an unusual decision by Judge Randolph J. Haines of the United States Bankruptcy Court to summon a senior executive from Wells Fargo to appear in Mrs. Giguere’s bankruptcy case.


Newly poor in Nevada…

People are struggling across the country, and around the world…..

not homeless

This is the story of a chance encounter between two women. It was a moment that changed the lives of one family, very much for the better:

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