Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mayor Funkhouser Talks About Foreclosures

I found this auction sign in front of a house not far from where the mayor was.
A large national auction house is conducting the auctioning of over 200 Kansas City metro homes this coming weekend. Mayor Mark Funkhouser decided to have a press conference in order to
express his concern with regard to that auction. The mayor is concerned that buyers from out of state will participate in this national auction and will buy many of the houses, and let them "sit and rot and fall into disrepair". He stated that houses up for auction could go for as little as $5000--even as little as $2 k. The mayor was accompanied by community and city housing advocates and organizers, including Habitat for Humanity, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and others. The event was held at 11220 Palmer Avenue in the Ruskin Heights part of Kansas City. This address is in the 64134 zip code, which has the second highest foreclosure rate in the city.
The mayor answers questions after his speech.
The main thrust of the mayor's short speech was to encourage local investment and ownership. The mayor felt that even if the buyers were not going to occupy the house, but rent it and manage it locally, that was better then a flock of out of state buyers buying up large swaths of
neighborhoods and allowing the houses to lie fallow. He also challenged private non-profit money to come and help people purchase some of these homes. He answered a few questions, mainly about the mandated city registry of abandoned houses. He admitted that the list had fallen short on accuracy and work was being done to compare the list to other data bases like those of the Water Department.
This beige house with the small deck out front is on the auction house's list. It was just a short distance from the press-er at 7505 East 112 Street. Next door to the rehabbing house at 11220 Palmer, this grey house was empty with an overgrown front lawn.

This neighborhood is hurtin' for certain. I noticed a lot of houses with notes taped to their window, some well kept up, and many with overgrown lawns, a few seemingly still occupied. I totally understand the mayor's concern, wanting to keep as much local involvement in the neighborhood as possible. There are pitfalls, such as enabling people to be homeowners who do not have the wherewithal to maintain the home. Also, we cannot give away something for nothing--it will just become another entitlement that will not be cared for--another black hole of endless want/handout/begging. We also have to be careful that we don't end up with a cluster of subsidized houses, clumping people of disadvantage all together. It has been demonstrated over and over that a cluster of subsidized housing is a neighborhood clusterf**k. I like the idea of involving groups, whether private or public, that demand accountability of the home owner and make the home owner an investor in the property, the neighborhood, and the city.

Some links of interest: The Auction House's website--Hudson&Marshall.
Kansas City Star: Report by Dave Helling


Rush'd Lady said...

The house next door to us is in same condition. Sad! :(

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Yes, I keep seeing in blogland how this housing stuff is changing the landscape of cities and the expectations of citizens block-by-block. We need more police in such cases, and all the cities are carving their PDs down. This is just all bad as a trend.

Good luck to us all.

Ann T.

the observer said...

Rush'd Lady:
Areas like ours are probably the most vulnerable. Maybe some folks bought who should not have, or they treated their house like a piggy bank with a equity loan, assuming that it would always increase in value. I think we have to go back to remembering that first, a house is a place to LIVE IN. I'm sorry it's affected your neighborhood, and you, so directly.
Thanks for stopping in and commenting! The Observer

the observer said...

Ann T:
As I said above, changing philosophy from house as investment to house as home might be part of the shift. Meantime, like Bob, we must man the watchtowers!

Programs like these might help if done right.

Thanks for commenting!

The Observer