The share of renters who spend more than half their income on housing is at its highest level in half a century and it’s no longer just low-income tenants who are feeling the pain, according to a Harvard University study scheduled for release Tuesday.
About 26 percent of renters — or 10.1 million people — spent more than half their pre-tax household income on rent and utilities in 2009.
That’s because incomes slipped dramatically from their peak at the start of the decade even as rents kept rising.
As part of a local initiative to curb air-conditioner thefts, Nationwide Insurance offered these tips for property owners:
Use ultraviolet ink to mark pipes in the air conditioner with your name and contact information. Police and metal dealers can read the markings with a black light.Remove exterior ladders and trim trees to reduce access to roof-mounted units.Enclose air conditioners in secure metal cages and anchor ground-level units to concrete pads.If possible, attach your alarm system to your air conditioner or have a contractor install an alarm.Cut back greenery and adjust outdoor lights to deny cover to thieves.
Metal prices soar as improving economy boosts demand (Jan. 19)Scrap thieves now taking entire air conditioners (Dec. 4, 2010)Mechanic gets 4 years in prison for air-conditioner thefts (Sep. 16, 2009)Local scrap-metal companies won’t buy air-conditioner parts for the next 30 days, giving property owners time to mark their units with invisible ink.
Columbus officials announced that plan yesterday as part of a continuing battle with thieves who steal metal that can be sold for cash. After the voluntary moratorium ends, scrap dealers will check for the markings when people bring in air-conditioner parts.
Thieves have stolen 437 air-conditioners since November, Columbus police say, and they expect more thefts to be reported as the weather warms up and people find that their units have been gutted for their copper over the winter.
“I want these criminals and these thieves to know: You cannot get away with stealing these air conditioners because we’re onto you,” Mayor Michael B. Coleman said during a news conference at a scrap dealership on Joyce Road yesterday.
In March, a police officer spotted a man dismantling the air-conditioner atop the Westland Cinema, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.
Robert Cline, 32, was indicted last month on charges from that crime, which caused $15,000 in damage.
O’Brien’s office has indicted four other men in connection with the theft of 16 air conditioners. Two of those men, Carl Alff, 47, and James Shearer, 31, were indicted together yesterday on charges that they stole 11 air conditioners from apartment complexes in the city.
A 2007 Columbus law requires scrap dealers to pay for a $500 license and to report their metal purchases to police every day. The people selling the scrap to the dealers must provide identification and their thumbprints. They must show proof of ownership if they want to sell more than two appliances or one catalytic converter per day, and dealers must hold some items for 30 days.
The moratorium announced yesterday, in combination with encouraging property owners to mark their metal air-conditioner parts, will add to an effort that was already helping nab thieves, said Councilwoman Michelle M. Mills, who leads the council’s safety committee. The council plans no further legislation, she said.
The city’s law took effect during the last wave of metal thefts, when international prices for scrap metal were skyrocketing. In the meantime, the law, the recession and lower scrap-metal prices seemed to be making a dent in the problem. But as the economy began to revive last year and metal prices climbed again, scrap thieves got bolder.
In December, police said thieves were taking off with entire air-conditioning units, and the thefts never stopped.
“One report was for 25 units,” said Cmdr. Robert Meader.
Robert Patterson, deacon of Emmanuel Tabernacle Baptist Church, has endured the theft of four air conditioners at his church. Replacing them, adding secure cages and upgrading lights cost the church $20,000, he said.
Josh Joseph, an owner at I.H. Schlezinger Inc., the scrap dealership where Coleman and other officials announced the initiative, said his employees soon will be able tell immediately whether air-conditioner parts have been stolen.
If an ultraviolet light shows that they’re marked, employees will call the police.
In the meantime, Joseph isn’t sure what the 30-day moratorium, agreed to voluntarily by the holders of 19 scrap-metal licenses in Columbus and Franklin County, will do to his business.
“We are happy to be part of the solution to metals thefts,” he said.
Fannie Mae Offers Incentives to Real Estate Investor Buyers and REO Buyers’ agents can earn $1,000 bonuses on HomePath sales in 2 states
Fannie Mae is once again offering closing-cost assistance for buyers who close on a home in the mortgage giant’s real-estate owned (REO) inventory, but in most states will not bring back cash bonuses it previously paid to buyers’ agents.
A broad agreement could be struck within two months to overhaul how millions of foreclosures are handled by the nation’s biggest banks and to expand the use of home loan modifications, according to Tom Miller, the attorney general of Iowa.
WASHINGTON — All 50 state attorneys general, along with federal regulators, have been stepping up pressure on the mortgage servicers over their foreclosure lapses in recent days and presented them with an outline of a settlement late last week. But when Mr. Miller made his comments at a press conference here on Monday, it was the first time officials have said when an agreement might come. “I’m hoping we can wrap it up in a couple of months,” he said. “That’s a hope, but we’re going to move as fast as we can.”
There have been reports that a broad settlement with the banks was imminent, but Mr. Miller played down that prospect, citing thorny issues like the question of just which homeowners should benefit from the proceeds of any settlement.
WOW! This could be huge. My experience has been borrowers can only get a 30 year loan when the lender has the opportunity to “sell the loan” to Fannie Mae or Freddie and get “reimbursed” the money loaned.
Many local banks have worked with investors by offering “in house” loan products with shorter terms and calls.
How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product, housing experts on both sides of the political aisle say.
Interest rates would rise for most borrowers, but urban and rural residents could see sharper increases than the coveted customers in the suburbs.
Lenders could charge fees for popular features now taken for granted, like the ability to “lock in” an interest rate weeks or months before taking out a loan.
Life without Fannie and Freddie is the rare goal shared by the Obama administration and House Republicans, although it will not happen soon. Congress must agree on a plan, which could take years, and then the market must be weaned slowly from dependence on the companies and the financial backing they provide.
The reasons by now are well understood. Fannie and Freddie, created to increase the availability of mortgage loans, misused the government’s support to enrich shareholders and executives by backing millions of shoddy loans.
Taxpayers so far have spent more than $135 billion on the cleanup.
The much more divisive question is whether the government should preserve the benefits that the companies provide to middle-class borrowers, including lower interest rates, lenient terms and the ability to get a mortgage even when banks are not making other kinds of loans.
Douglas J. Elliott, a financial policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Congress was being forced for the first time in decades to grapple with the cost of subsidizing middle-class mortgages. The collapse of Fannie and Freddie took with it the pretense that the government could do so at no risk to taxpayers, he said.
“The politicians would like something that provides a deep and wide subsidy for housing that doesn’t show up on the budget as costing anything. That’s what we had” with Fannie and Freddie, Mr. Elliott said. “But going forward there is going to be more honest accounting.”
Some Republicans and Democrats say the price is too high. They want the government to pull back, letting the market dictate price, terms and availability.
“A purely private mortgage finance market is a very serious and very achievable goal,” Representative Scott Garrett, the New Jersey Republican who oversees the subcommittee that oversees Fannie and Freddie, said at a hearing this week. “No one serious in this debate believes our housing market will return to the 1930s.”
Still, powerful interests in both parties want the government instead to construct a system that would preserve many of the same benefits, with changes intended to minimize the risk of future bailouts. They say the recent crisis showed that the market could not stand on its own.
“The kind of backstop that we have now, if it didn’t exist, we would have had a much more severe recession and a much sharper fall in home values,” said Michael D. Berman, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, which represents the lending industry.
Hanging in the balance are the basic features of a mortgage loan: the interest rate and repayment period.
Fannie and Freddie allow people to borrow at lower rates because investors are so eager to pump money into the two companies that they accept relatively modest returns.
The key to that success is the guarantee that investors will be repaid even if borrowers default — a promise ultimately backed by taxpayers.
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