Posts Tagged ‘money’

Abandoned home in Pigtown

Abandoned home in Pigtown

There may be a silver lining to the City Paper’s story about Patterson Park Community Development Corporation going bankrupt. With this example of what a for-profit company can achieve in a few years with a modest budget, councilperson William Cole will soon introduce a measure to the City Council that aims to redevelop what is being called Baltimore’s Outer Harbor–according to the Outer Harbor Initiative, that means borderline neighborhoods like Westport, Pigtown, and Patterson Park.

According to the bill, “In the City of Baltimore, there exists a severe housing problem with respect to the supply of affordable housing …In 2005… more than 16,000 households were on the waiting list for assisted housing.”

According to the Initiative, Baltimore’s more than 17,000 abandoned rowhouses and 13,000 vacant lots are a siren call for drug dealing, illegal dumping, rats, squatters, and drug users.

The Initiative points to a recent study by Harvard and Suffolk University that “confirmed the ‘broken window theory’—that blight sends a message to criminals that no one in the neighborhood is in charge, making it ‘open for business’.” They conclude, “Neighborhoods cannot be safe or stable until abandoned housing is addressed effectively.”

What does the bill aim to do? Per the Initiative,

“It’s a resolution … to direct more resources to housing code enforcement activities, to clean up abandoned buildings, or to acquire them for rehabbing and sale to new owners. It will also dedicate resources to help attract new residents.”

Thanks to Baltimore’s new slumlord watchdog site for highlighting this promising initiative.


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Finance Frenzy, Unpacked

Jonathan Jarvis's economic breakdown

Jonathan Jarvis's economic breakdown

A year and a half ago, as I drove from New York City to Baltimore with a dog and many boxes, I listened to Cassidy bragging, I got m’ drink and my 2 step, I’m home, I’m home, get the patron, tell ’em that it’s on.

In retrospect, in 2007, the whole country was swaggering, drink in hand. The stock market was swelling to new heights every day. Credit cards were wielded with inpunity–heck, you could always get another and move your debt around.

You could, everyone did it, even banks–until they couldn’t. What happened? What’s up with credit freezes, currency devaluing, the domino of bankruptcies and rumored bankruptcies of GM, Iceland, and Circuit City? Near and dear to idealist urbanite hearts, the City Paper reports that The Patterson Park Community Development Corporation -which bought up blocks of rowhouses, redeveloped homes and spent millions to improve parks and city dwellers’ quality of life–is now broke, thanks largely to another bank gone belly-up.

We know it’s bad, but what, why and how?

Here are the best three explanations I’ve found:

WHAT: FRONTLINE’s special, Inside the Meltdown, “gives a plain-English primer of Wall Street’s meltdown” (Boston Globe). Yes, and the program is riveting, like a car crash narrated by CNBC. It’s about 60 minutes–you can watch online.

WHY: The BBC radio documentary “Rating the Credit Rating Agencies” shows how this sort of organization gave investors full confidence to march on–“to the precipice.” Credit rating agencies like Moody’s had incentives to rate investments highly, like giving a bundle of debt that included sub prime mortgages a triple-A rating. They were pressured to incur more business from investors touting stacks of debt, and they got a cut of the deal–tens of thousands of dollars for each rating, work done in a few hours over a pepperoni pizza. One source concludes, “It was a house of cards.” The podcast is 22 minutes–download before it goes off line at the end of the week.

HOW: The Crisis of Credit Visualized –an animated explanation by California media artist Jonathan Jarvis–takes a couple minutes to get good, but stick with it (the whole thing is 11 minutes). You’ll get the how when Jarvis’s cartoon bankers begin slicing up stacks of mortage debt with swords so the sub-prime mortages–aka toxic assets–are hidden. Later, bad mortages explode into forclosure like bombs around dazed bankers. It also explains collatoralized debt obligations (CDO), credit default swaps, overleveraged banks and how these practices have nearly imploded Wall Street.

As long as we’re all going down with the ship, we should see the iceberg that pierced our vessel. No? You’re getting the patron and turning on Cassidy. Well, ok.

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So I just was reading an article about google ads on a website and how some guy is making $120,000 in advertising profit off of his blog.  Then I wondered, could we (and would we want to) do this with our blog?  Maybe we could put ads in, and whenever we each post or visit the blog click on a sidebar ad or two to generate money, which would come to us each month.  Then, we could use the check from our ad revenues to go out to Brewer’s!  What do you gals think?  Good idea, bad idea or never going to amount to much so why bother?

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