Economists, reporters, politicians, and bloggers have all proclaimed and/or wondered if The Great Recession is over. Our blog has followed some of these statistics and claims at the national level, but today we want to look specifically at the situation in Baltimore and its housing market.
Many (weak) signs suggest bottoms have been found in a number of markets, and perhaps its human nature for us to seek out and accept the good news. As we have previously reported, the mid-Atlantic did not enjoy a stunning housing bubble, and thus did not endure a painful popping of that bubble. According to CNN Money, “In the Maryland and Virginia suburbs around Washington, the restrictions on building are among the most onerous in the entire nation. As a result, only a trickle of new housing is coming on the market, despite the good economy and strong job growth in the Washington area.” So-far-so-good…
But the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan region has to deal with other economic factors that affect other regions as well, including fallout from other housing markets. Sally Scott, Senior Program Officer, Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, recently posted an entry on the blog Audacious Ideas: Thoughts About How To Change Baltimore For The Better that the city is working toward ‘resilience,’ an idea she builds upon from the book Resilient Cities: Responding to Peak Oil and Climate Change by Peter Newman), Timothy Beatley, and Heather Boyer: “The good news is that housing counselors [like her ] have helped thousands of people avoid foreclosure. Our coalition has distributed brochures throughout Baltimore to let renters know that they have rights if their landlord is foreclosed on. However, the fight against foreclosure also has been humbling, because the crisis has affected many more people, and lasted much longer, than we originally had thought it would.”
Indeed, evidence is accruing that shows how the tentacles of the recession continue to pull downward even on comparatively healthy markets. In Baltimore, for example, the percentage of houses sold via foreclosure in the opening quarter of 2010 is now 35%, compared to 22% from this time last year. Each county and housing market between Baltimore and DC, some of the more stable and affluent regions in the country, has had similar rises in foreclosed/resold houses, according to the reporting of Jane Smith Hopkins of The Baltimore Sun. Even as consumer purchasing is expanding, the purchases are apparently for smaller/disposable items, not for durable goods that strongly suggest optimism over longterm growth.
Many in Baltimore are working hard to improve the situation, of course. So we want to highlight a resource for growth and sustainability in Charm City. The “Baltimore Office of Sustainability” offers resources for individuals and businesses looking for ways to green their lifestyles and projects, ways to use public and non-carbon fuel transportation, and the ever-important means to educate our children on achieving sustainable growth and becoming a city of resilience. The website also has a lovely web banner/background worth a moment of appreciation before moving to the heart of the matter.
Now if we could just do something to make the Orioles and Nationals a bit more resilient in the standings of the AL & NL East respectively.