@Strib: Foreclosure Continues Regional Damage

VoicesSM

Minnesota’s housing market is stabilizing, but prices dropped more here than the national average. Mortgage delinquency is at or over the national average in Isanti, Sherburne, and Chisago counties. These three, as well as Anoka and Scott counties, are among the state’s ten counties currently hardest hit by foreclosure, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

A new study suggests this is consistent with a national trend. Households located in areas far from jobs and services are more reliant on long car commutes and their expense, creating another hurdle for households as job losses have accumulated. These maps illustrate who pays the largest share of household income to transportation and housing costs – exurban residents.

Foreclosure and vacancy is toxic for any community, urban or elsewhere. It’s not particularly constructive to introduce “slumburbia” as a new label for hard-hit exurbs and suburbs. If access to parts of our region is contingent on cheap, subsidized gas prices, people who buy property are exposing themselves to changes in those prices. If many homeowners in one area do so, the effects can be brutal for neighborhoods.

The Twin Cities region has grown by up to 25 acres per day in recent years. Providing houses with water and sewer, roads and other infrastructure demands a long-term and expensive public commitment. The foreclosure wave serves to highlight how households, local and state governments are all leveraged by development that relies on cheap, distant commutes to workplaces and services. As we’ve relearned in recent years, leverage works just as swiftly in reverse as it does moving forward.

Note: This piece is also published on the Star Tribune website in its Your Voices forum. See Commers posts on Your Voices here