The “SECTION 8” writing is on the wall

excerpt “CARMELITA” by Warren Zevon

“I hear Mariachi static on my radio
And the tubes they glow in the dark
And I’m there with her in Ensenada
And I’m here in “Section Eight Stone Apts” Park

Well, I’m sittin’ here playing solitaire
With my pearl-handled deck
The county won’t give me no more methadone
And they cut off your welfare check…….”  end quote (“Section Eight Stone Apts” is my addition to the song – I couldn’t resist!)

I had to chuckle today as I looked at the “for sale” and “for rent” ads in the July 1 Molalla Pioneer.

There, in the “for rent” ads, was a great big ad for the much celebrated brand new Motel 6-esque Stone Apartments in Molalla. Over and over we’ve heard from “manager” Atkins that this barracks-like apartment complex (so ill-planned that you have to get into a CAR to go anywhere because there are no sidewalks or bike lanes to get people safely out of the asphalt jungle) is “almost” fully rented.  That’s a typical Atkins “think positive, bend the truth” propaganda hook because every time I have checked there have always been plenty of places to rent at Stone Apts. In fact, if you love to smoke cigarettes, you have your choice of smoky units in this nearly brand new complex. Only in downtrodden Molalla would a brand new building allow smoking in any units.

Anyway, the funny new information in today’s giant “please rent” listing for the Stone “Barracks” Apts. is the message that “SECTION 8” is now allowed! That “SECTION 8” is a nice touch to prove what bad planning and no concern for quality of life has lead to in the sinking fast, jobless ghost town named Molalla.

Atkins ought to get an interview into the papers titled: “Go Ghetto – SECTION 8 comes to Stone Apts. less than a year after the grand opening in Molalla!”

The story can focus on the sinking tax base here, the lack of SDCs and the shifting demographics toward immigrants and old folks, as middle class working families seek a high quality of life in well run cities that honor taxpayers’ investments with parks, good roads, good schools, good access to diverse stores and services, and government that listens to and works for everyone – not just rich good old boy developers.

It will be really funny to see if investors are dumb enough to build the proposed apts. on Hart street. Section 8 must be paying for a lot of rent if someone can actually raise the money to “develop” for the welfare crowd in Molalla. But hey, I guess it is progress if Molalla is finally embracing the reality of its instant ghetto future. With the proposed “swap meet” center right across the street in the old Keith Brown building at least the “new” Hart Street apt. dwellers could get some cheap furnishings on their way to the cheap bars in downtown’s desolation row. And from Hart street at least the Section 8 crowd could make it to the cheap downtown desolation row bars on foot on real sidewalks – that’s something to celebrate!

Let’s just call the Hart Street proposal “SECTION EIGHT” and get ahead in the naming process.

There is more bad news below about the housing market. But first, one more story: I met a local woman this week who lives across the street from Kyllo Tree Farms. She is so isolated that she hadn’t heard the sad news that the HIGH ENDERS weren’t on their way to build 40-50 Renaissance Homes mansions on Kyllo Tree Farm to ruin her quiet rural life. She was pretty happy to hear that her quality of life would stay intact and I am always very glad to be the bearer of such glad tidings!

Let’s hope Kyllo doesn’t get fixed on building for SECTION 8 out here in these pretty high value EFU hills and dales, because in this market SECTION 8 is about all Molalla has to look forward to.

Read on:

July 1, 2010

Weak Housing Data Signal That Economy Is Losing Steam


A record fall in pending home sales and a slowdown in the construction market contributed to a sluggish outlook for the economy Thursday, highlighting the significance of government stimulus measures and job growth.

The economic indicators were the latest features that economists and analysts used to gauge the pace of the economic recovery. But all eyes are on the monthly employment figures scheduled for release Friday, which are expected to show a net loss of 125,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in June, and an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, compared with 9.7 percent in May.

According to new statistics, pending homes sales and construction both declined in May. In addition, figures showed that while manufacturers recorded some gains in June, the pace of activity in that sector slowed last month compared with May and also came in slightly below estimates.

“The idea of a growth slowdown in the second half of 2010, a long-held belief of ours, is catching on as the data increasingly reinforces this idea,” said Dan Greenhaus, the chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak and Company.

Reflecting on the housing figures, the National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, said in a statement that job creation was one of the critical elements that would determine whether the housing market can grow without federal stimulus.

The association said its index, which tracks pending home sales, fell in May, after the government tax credit for home buyers expired. The index for contracts signed in May fell by 30 percent to 77.6, down from 110.9 in April. The index is down nearly 16 percent from where it stood in May 2009, the association said.

The decline reversed three months of increases, as home buyers rushed to make use of the tax credit, put in place as part of a government stimulus measure to address the housing crisis. The May figure also represents the lowest level since the association started tracking such contract activity as a forward-looking indicator in 2001.

“The key test on whether the housing market can stand on its own without stimulus medicine will depend critically on private sector job creation in the second half of the year,” Mr. Yun said.

The association said the rush of home buyers who signed contracts by April has delayed many of the closings, and the extra time takes to process short sales has also slowed the process. As a result, as many as 180,000 buyers who signed contracts by April 30 could have missed the June 30 deadline to complete the sale and qualify for the credit, the association said.

But on Wednesday night, Congress approved legislation to extend the closing deadline until Sept. 30, meaning that buyers now have an extra three months to complete their purchases, and therefore qualify for up t0 $8,000 in federal tax credits.

“Demand has fallen off a cliff in the wake of the tax credit expiration,” said Mike Larson, real estate and interest rate analyst at Weiss Research, in a research note. “And with so many Americans unemployed or underemployed, the housing market is going to keep hurting,” he added.

Ahead of the main jobs figures, a weekly employment indicator was no cause for optimism. Initial claims for unemployment benefits were higher last week, the second time in three weeks, the Labor Department said Thursday, a sign that layoffs are rising. It said new claims for jobless benefits rose by 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 472,000. Analysts had expected a small decline, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The construction sector will also depend on the labor market. Spending on construction in May fell just slightly, declining 0.2 percent after a 2.3 percent rise in April, the Commerce Department said. Analysts had forecast a 0.5 percent decline for May.

Private, non-residential spending fell 0.6 percent after a 0.8 percent rise the month before. Construction spending on new homes and apartments shrank 0.4 percent in May after a 5.0 percent spike in April. Public projects outlays increased 0.4 percent in May after rising 1.6 percent in April.

Manufacturing has been one of the few bright spots in the economic recovery. In a survey representing 18 manufacturing industries, the Institute for Supply Management found that employment was still expanding in the sector but the rate of that growth slowed in June by about 2 percentage points compared with May.

Thomas J. Duesterberg, chief executive of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, said that the institute’s statistics suggested there was anticipation that jobs would grow.

“How much growth depends on what starts to happen in the next few months,” he said. “We need to see some further support from things like construction, consumer spending, and we are a little nervous about the export picture over all because Europe is weak an there are some early signs that China is slowing down.”

Over all, the index used to measure manufacturing shrank by 3.5 percentage points to 56.2 in June, mainly because orders and production slowed down, the ISM said.

Industries such as plastics and rubber products; transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products reported growth, while apparel, wood products and machinery contracted.

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