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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Foreclosures

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February 3, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Leaving Las Vegas: foreclosure capital of America, but still standing

Hardest hit zip codes in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Ground zero in the nation’s housing crisis can be found near the intersection of Ann Road and Clayton Street in North Las Vegas. Those crossroads are smack in the middle of the 89031 zip code, which had more home foreclosures last year than any other in America.

That’s where we met Pacita Valerio.

Valerio is a single mother with two children, and she bought one of the first homes in her subdivision in 2005, for $255,000. Valerio said she moved from Hawaii to Las Vegas three years earlier so her daughter, then 18, could attend college on the mainland. To make the home downpayment, Valerio cashed in her retirement savings.

“I was one of the first to move in,” said Valerio, 55. “When you passed by here six or seven years ago, you didn’t see hardly anything. Then the homes grew like mushrooms.”

The subdivision was built by Pardee Homes, which according to a recent report has built homes for more than 40,000 families in southern Nevada since 1952.  Unfortunately, many of the homes in Valerio’s neighborhood never filled because the economy slowed and then went into freefall. To make matters worse, a large number of those who did buy eventually found themselves unable to make the mortgages.

This double whammy decimated market prices. Today, Valerio’s home is worth $95,000 according to her 2011 tax assessment, she said.

“There are probably 300 homes in this community, and I walk around and I see a lot of signs and empty houses,”  Valerio said. “Maybe 30% of the homes have people in them. The home two doors down they bought for $110,000 not long ago. It’s better, bigger than mine. I pay $1500 a month (for a mortgage). They pay $700.”

It’s a story that is all too common in the Las Vegas area.

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Comments | Topics: 89031, Foreclosures, HAMP

February 2, 2012 at 6:37 AM

On the road to Nevada and Colorado caucuses: Sin City, Super Bowl Weekend, Ted Haggard, and Tim Tebow

(Courtesy of flickr/John Wardell)

LAS VEGAS — Call us crazy. Our friends and families certainly do.

This morning we hit the road for another week on the ground of the presidential three-ring circus — er, campaign.

Our first stop is in the bright lights here to chronicle three days of Republican Party campaigning and Saturday caucuses in what are high holy days in the Sin City — Super Bowl weekend. To kick it off, Donald Trump will make a “major” announcement today at 12:30 pm at his eponymous Trump Hotel and Towers on The Strip. We’ll be there — not to see The Donald, but to see what surrounds him. Epic. Absurd. America.

In Vegas, we plan to report on the housing crisis in the nation’s worst-hit city for foreclosures, to examine how people of the Mormon faith thrive in a state known for gambling and legal prostitution, to get some up-close insight into famously inexpensive Las Vegas culinary culture, to shed some light on Newt Gingrich’s largest benefactor and Las Vegas hotel mogul Sheldon Adelson, and to unpack the Nevada Republican Party’s decision to release the caucus results via twitter.

On Saturday we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from caucuses all across Clark County, which houses 60% of the state’s Republican population. The final caucus of the day will be held at a school named for Adelson, which should be interesting.

At dawn Sunday morning we head to Colorado to spend three days exploring conservative (Colorado Springs) and liberal (Denver and Boulder) strongholds in a politically purple state. Mitt Romney has the GOP nomination momentum and is likely to do well in Nevada, but on Tuesday Colorado joins Minnesota and Missouri in voting, so it’s a test of whether Romney can cement national support.

We plan to attend former National Association of Evangelical president Ted Haggard’s new church, which began in a barn after his fall from grace following a sex scandal, and his former church, which meets in a building the size of an airplane hangar. We are set to talk to Air Force Academy cadets and other military members who populate the region. We will hear what Latino Republicans think about their candidates. We want to know what the Obama campaign is doing in this crucial swing state. And we won’t be stunned if we see Tim Tebow somewhere on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday evening we’ll be tweeting results and commentary from various points up and down Interstate 25, which runs from the border of New Mexico to Wyoming, smack through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver, and alongside Boulder, Loveland, and Fort Collins. We’ll probably sing a particular John Denver song while we’re at it.

Please join us here for our posts. Crazy? Maybe. Compelling? Absolutely.

Continue after the fold for some scene-setting information on Nevada. We’ll provide similar context for Colorado on Sunday morning when we catch our breath.

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Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, Caucuses, caucuses