Report shows housing crisis far from over for Milwaukee

Housing experts identify Milwaukee as one Of America’s Worst “Hot-Spots” where homeowners & communities are still at-risk

Photo by Jeffery Turner - Source Flickr CC

Photo by Jeffery Turner – Source Flickr CC

A new report by UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, “Underwater America: How the So-Called Housing ‘Recovery’ is Bypassing Many Communities,” identifies Milwaukee as one of the US cities where the most serious housing crises still persist.

Milwaukee is listed as in the top 15 cities that face the most extreme levels of lost equity, where the most underwater homes are located, and where families are most acutely vulnerable to foreclosure.

In the first report of its kind, the authors analyze negative equity and foreclosure data together with race and income data, at a zip code level, as well as city and metropolitan area.

The report uncovers the depth of the housing problem that persists in these “hot spots”, as well as how the legacy of predatory lending has meant a disproportionate negative impact on African American and Latino communities.

In Milwaukee, the report was released by one of the authors and community leaders via a conference call on Thursday, May 8th. Speakers provided specific emphasis on local implications, resources available, and recommendations for local and federal action needed to prevent further foreclosures and loss of household wealth.

Written by housing experts at several universities across the country, the report highlights the nation’s most troubled hot spots where the highest proportion of homeowners still have negative equity.

The authors argue that market forces alone will not bring the recovery to these severely impacted communities, and call for local or federal intervention.

Industry data shows that many American homeowners are still severely underwater and at risk of losing their homes.

Despite home prices rising in many parts of the country, the total value of owner-occupied housing still remains $3.2 trillion below 2006 levels.

At the end of 2013 more than 9.8 million American households, representing 19.4 percent of all mortgaged homes, were still underwater on their mortgages.

Underwater homeowners are significantly more likely to default on their mortgages than homeowners with positive equity.

This report identifies where these homeowners are concentrated and which zip codes, cities and metropolitan areas are hardest hit.

The authors of the report are: Peter Dreier, Professor of Politics and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College; Saqib Bhatti, Fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation; Rob Call, graduate student in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Alex Schwartz, Professor of Urban Policy at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School; and Gregory Squires, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy & Public Administration and chair of the Department of Sociology at George Washington University.