Saturday, December 15, 2007

On being Homeless.....

I have lived on Long Island for 21 years. Sitting in my rented apartment and reading the current trends on the housing market, I am astonished but not surprised to see how steeply things have declined. Yesterday I heard a report on our minimum wage and how though the cost of living has increased, the minimum wage has steadily remained stoic and solid in its ability to not grow. For the past several years I have watched my neighbors, expand, rebuild and explode their homes into enormous dwellings. I, on the other hand, sold my very small home 5 years ago, and though I had money to buy a home, there was nothing feasibly affordable for me on Long Island. Back then I was devastated to lose my home, but now I am almost believing it was a gift that I would later learn to appreciate.

Many homes have been knocked down to make room for bigger, yet less interesting new homes. These homes sit empty, like big card board boxes waiting for someone to come and fill them. I see many friends struggling to keep up with the cost of keeping up their homes. Fighting everyday to deal with the increase of taxes, and the skyrocketing price of oil. Those who took out line of credits on their home equity when their homes value was optimal, are now seeing their value decrease and are left with a loan payment on something that no longer exists. How did we not see this coming? Did we really believe that things could stay up forever and ever? Sadly, this is not just happening to a few people, it is happening nationwide. I watch the elderly with their fixed income, barely able to afford to keep the homes they've lived in their whole lives, going to vote locally to see if by some miracle, their voice will be heard.

Then you have the young professionals, laden with their student loans, credit card debt trying to find affordable housing. I spoke to a young teacher and her husband who is in finance, and they shared that they've been trying to save because they both grew up here and this is where they too want to raise their own children. Unfortunately even with two incomes, when they crunch the numbers, they would be living pay check to pay check. Another young woman with two children shared that she and her husband bought their house at the very top of the market. Only being able to afford a small home. They are now in a situation where they have two kids, cannot afford to expand because they are afraid of taking out another loan and if they sold their home they would lose money because it is no longer worth what they paid for it.

It has become a sad truth, that my son will probably never be able to afford to buy a home on Long Island. People have be squeezed into tiny corners with few options left. It makes me wonder, will we really be able to provide a better life for our children, like our parents did so very long ago?




3 comments:

Big Dave T said...

How very true. It always confounded me to see new subdivisions being built all around us, with homes bearing price tags of $300,000 and more. Who can afford these homes, we wondered. Now we see all the foreclosures and we know, they couldn't.

I'm looking forward to next year because I believe we will be able to finally pay off our mortgage. The plan then was to sell and move into a smaller, retirement home. But with six homes for sale on our street alone, that is no longer an option for us.

simply me said...

Good for you that you are close to paying off your home. I know a few people who have just done that or are close to it. They also think they are fortunate. They feel that if they had to buy their home - they would never be able to afford it.
Happy Holidays Dave....

Dust-bunny said...

This message is for Big Dave...

The new home prices here on LI would be a heavenly gift if they were $300,000. As a matter of fact, if you could even find a handyman special for $300,000, it would be a miracle indeed. The minimum price for any new home that I've seen around here is $750,000. Yes, you read it correctly.

And Simply Me is right...they are all empty. Not only physically, but just the way that they're built. They knock down charming, old homes with personality on a large piece of property, and then put two huge, expanse "boxes" in their place.