The most important American stock exchange: your neighborhood housing stock

Last night, around 6o South Park neighbors got together at Hope Lutheran Church for our annual “Hot Toddy” party– food, desserts, alcohol, kids, a raffle for some amazing gift baskets and South Park Family Feud game- where the survey said: we’ve built a pretty special neighborhood. South Park is reportedly one of only a few Dayton neighborhoods where the property values went up in the last appraisal.

Sure we have some vacant homes that could be torn down as nuisance structures and we’ve also got some homes occupied by nuisance people, but the real difference (besides the recent crime spree which can be directly related to the aforementioned nuisance people) is that we truly have built our social capital by relentlessly working on quality of life issues, so that the tagline “where neighbors become friends” actually means something. The “social network” of our neighborhood is more real than virtual and the value is very tangible.

Last year I met a nice couple who were starting a business through my Veterans Owning Businesses group- When they visited my office, a building I bought in 1988 for $2,200 plus taking over $2,400 in back taxes, they fell in love with what I had done with the old corner grocery. I informed them of another old storefront that was available down the street. They now own 4 buildings in South Park, are residents and even have his parents investing in some other homes in the neighborhood. These values aren’t like stock prices at the Wall Street Casino and these investments aren’t short-term bets, because real housing markets have real transactional costs and real values attached to them.

Earlier this week, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Feds weren’t too happy with our demolition-happy policy pushed by Commissioner Nan Whaley (who accepted huge donations from “unknown demolition contractors”)

The city of Dayton, already losing ground in its war on urban decay, is slashing its housing inspection department after the federal government said it spent millions in taxpayer dollars with “no reportable accomplishments.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the amount of seriously dilapidated housing exploded between 2005 and 2009 in all four neighborhoods it studied.

It questioned the city’s long-standing policy of funding its housing inspections with HUD Community Development Block Grant money, and called on city officials to re-evaluate how it is spending the federal money.

via Feds criticize city’s proposal to trim housing inspection program.

Had the millions been spent improving quality of life (CDBG money has been used in South Park for park improvements, street closings, new lighting, wrought iron fences for public spaces etc) perhaps the value of the investment of our tax dollars actually brought a return. You don’t build value by tearing down, you just subtract negative value. There is no incentive for new investment, no growth. Empty lots are very rarely tangible assets in a country going through a disastrous slide in real housing values thanks to the non-existent Federal oversight on the FIRE industries (Financial, Insurance & Real Estate) with their play money secondary markets and the trillions of dollars stolen from the working-class people of this great country.

From today’s Dayton Daily News we find that Ohio is particularly hard hit by the double whammy of higher vacancy rates and lower tax revenues:

Ohio’s housing vacancy rate jumped 50 percent between 2000 and 2010, the 10th largest leap among the states and far above the U.S. average of 33 percent, the Government Accountability Office said last week.

The increases in vacancies are costly to taxpayers, the GAO noted, straining community services like police and fire protection and sometimes requiring taxpayer-funded maintenance and demolition. The impact of vacant homes on surrounding property values also may reduce communities’ tax revenues.

Across the nation, the number of vacant housing units, excluding units for seasonal migrant workers, climbed from 6.8 million in 2000 to 10.3 million in 2010, a change of 51.2 percent.

Ohio’s vacancy rate — the amount of vacant property as a percentage of total housing stock — rose 49.8 percent from 2000 to 2010, going from 6.1 percent to 9.1 percent, the GAO said. That’s the 10th highest, but better than the top three: New Hampshire (77.4 percent), Minnesota, (75.8 percent) and Michigan (73 percent).

Ohio ranked in the top 20 states in three other indicators related to vacancies: the 2000-2010 percentage change in the number of vacant residential properties (13th), the unemployment rate (18th) and the percentage of loans in foreclosure (eighth) as of December 2010, according to the GAO report, issued Tuesday.

via Ohio’s housing vacancy rate up 50 percent in past decade.

The focus on the wrong “Stock Markets” by the media and the politicians has allowed the greatest crime in history to be carried off which has filled the pockets of the super rich while draining those of the rest of us. This is the transfer of wealth and the huge income gap that brought the Occupy Wall Street movement to the forefront. The giant sucking sound will continue as community after community goes bankrupt- all while the fat cats on Wall Street continue on their merry way playing with your money on their play market. Had we bailed out the homeowners instead of the robber barons by:

  • Forcing down interest rates on loans instead of bailouts for banks
  • Capping pay for publicly traded companies’ executives (forcing distribution to shareholders instead of to executive pay)
  • Placed transactional taxes on financial trades to stop volatility and bring real value back to stock pricing
  • Funded the unpopular wars with higher taxes (wars do tax society and voters would react differently if they saw a war tax coming out of every paycheck)

    (updated later, same day)Place compensation ratio limits on any company that does business with the Federal government.

There are some other issues of fairness that need to be addressed in the United States if we want to build a relatively fair and level economic playing field including:

  • A flat rate federal internet sales tax (which would fund universal high speed access nationwide and fund technology for education)
  • The ending of all tax-funded corporate welfare at any level less than national (no more luring of jobs from one community to another with public tax dollars).
  • Funding all election campaigns with tax dollars giving a level playing field to all candidates who would be rated on the value of their ideas, not the size of their campaign kittys. We need real elections instead of auctions in our county again.
  • Universal access to affordable health care (note- no mention of insurance) because good health is a mandatory part of being able to work and be a net contributor to society (if anyone can prove the value of the health insurance industry as middlemen sucking up 35% of all health care spending in this country, I nominate you for the Nobel Prize).
  • Re-evaluating our system of higher education which has seen huge price increases without creating equal value in economic return for students over the last 30 years.

The real stock value in America has never been on Wall Street but on Main Street. It’s time we aligned our Federal policy with good sound financial policy. Only then, will we be building value in our country instead of allowing the few to profit from the collective labors of us all.

On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, I’ll find out if I’m on the ballot to run for Congress in OH-10. If you like what you read in this post, please consider visiting and signing up to volunteer or donate to a campaign that will be funded by the people who built this great country- not the ones who are trying to steal it.

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