May 21, 2008

Here's an idea: Give foreclosed homes to disaster victims

Ok, for years now, we've been hearing about the housing shortage left in the wake of Katrina. There have been other floods and hurricanes that have left thousands more homeless in those tragedies.

We've also been hearing about hundreds of thousands of homes being foreclosed upon and entire neighborhood blocks sitting empty due to the housing bubble. Unfortunately, if houses are left vacant too long, people come in the night and strip the homes of anything of value. I just heard a segment on NPR yesterday that houses are going for as little as $1 or $500 on ebay from wholesalers who buy up homes in distressed areas.

It seems that FEMA has a chance here to redeem itself by working with HUD. Here's my idea (you can probably see this coming): Why doesn't the federal government buy up a limited number of homes from the banks (enough so that there are no completely vacant neighborhoods)? The government could then offer these completed homes to disaster victims. The overall costs for giving a home to a family of 6 may be less than the rebuilding subsidies and FEMA trailers. This obviously would not help everyone and the families would need to be willing to relocate, but if there is a house and property to be had at the new location, I bet there would be quite a few takers.

This idea would:
-help disaster stricken families
-help banks avoid selling homes for $500
-help neighborhoods survive the bursting of the housing bubble
-help prevent the looting of some of the newly constructed homes of the past years
-help redeem FEMA and HUDs reputations as government agencies that actually do good

Of course, if a non-profit organization were formed, the banks could DONATE the homes for the same purpose and get writeoffs...maybe with writeoff values that would be higher than the sale values to wholesalers. But then the government would have nothing to do with it...

1 comment:

Some said...

Great idea, bro.