Tuesday, February 2, 2010

w, nrdc: Idiots think mass transit wards off mortgage foreclosures.

Wired.com is carrying a story put out by the National Resource Defense Council (golly, that recalls the fictitional "Global Defense Council" eco group from the movie "An American President"), finding that there were fewer mortgage foreclosures in (.pdf file) "compact" neighborhoods with mass transit nearby. The conclusion - living where you depend on your car makes foreclosure more likely, and mass transit wards off foreclosure.

What idiots.

Foreclosures happen because people have been convinced to live in debt. Expect a 25 or 30 year mortgage - anything else and you are wasting your money. Hah.

Where do you find mass transit - mass transit that works, that serves the community, that doesn't exist solely on subsidies? Mass transit works when there are a lot of places to go, right next to the station. Travel from high rise apartments to high rise offices? Check. Travel from massive suburban parking lots to high rise offices? Check.

Now look at new housing developments. They build out in the boonies, often dismantling regular gridded street patterns (at least they did, regularly, in Arizona. I lost home owner insurance, because the response time from the nearest fire station changed when they remade a 50 MPH section line road into 25 MPH, curved, inside-the-development-fence, narrow residential cul-de-sac lined capillary road system.) Housing developments that it may take residents 10-15 minutes to go from one side to the other (about 1-2 miles). Housing developments selling to people barely able to afford the mortgage, then sold on "upgrades".

I bet the damned study didn't take into account whether the mortgage foreclosures had anything to do with first mortgages or houses bought from developers. I bet the study didn't compare ratio of mortgaged residences to non-mortgaged residences (as in, it might make a difference if the community was stable, and actually had enough amenities to make living there worth while).

I bet the study didn't take into account the amount of time it took the average wage earner to commute to work each day, or the distance involved.

I bet the study didn't take into account the percentage of the mortgage to the selling price, in an effect on foreclosures. Or whether the community was "distressed".

People interested in Suburbia or housing developments - or buying a house deliberately away from mass transit for less traffic and exposure to undesirables - are often fascinated by status symbols. Including forming a family with someone on the basis of their status symbol value, rather than discipline, integrity, and an aptitude and drive to form a family and interact with the community as a family (housing developments seldom develop much of a real community, in the sense of regular, daily personal interactions as in RFD Mayberry).

Mass transit doesn't ward off mortgage foreclosures.

People interested in being part of a community, picking an intimate partner to be a life-mate and co-parent, people connected to extended family and neighbors - that kind of people won't often put themselves in high-risk situations like the dreamers and Upwardly Mobile crowd.

The difference between high rates of foreclosure and mass transit neighborhoods is nothing less than leveraged consumerism. The foreclosure neighborhoods have it, the mass transit neighborhoods have learned to live (better) without it.

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