This article discusses the rise of consumer debt in the United States, and argues that relaxed lending standards resulting in more people buying unaffordable homes. The current financial crisis and its effects on homeowners are examined, as well as policy responses to the crisis. The author suggests that instead of waiting for federal bailouts, localities take proactive steps to prevent the crisis from destroying their cities. Finally, the article stresses that the crisis threatens to leave urban areas with a significant number of abandoned homes and that an increase in distressed neighborhoods may reverse years of urban renewal projects.



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