A reader writes:
In Santa Maria, a modest little community of 130,000 on the central coast of California, the surnames of the seller and buyer of every property in the area are listed in the Sunday real estate section of our local newspaper. Most of the sellers are banks. But most of the buyers have Hispanic surnames, and the selling prices are way down from what they were just two years ago. While I know that every property sold by a bank represents a family foreclosed upon, I'm nevertheless heartened to see that so many of our working and middle class families are finally realizing the American dream of homeownership.
The Hispanic population of Santa Maria has been over 50% for many years, yet historically their share of property ownership has not been reflected in their numbers. Housing prices between Carpinteria and Paso Robles have always been much higher than in most similar sized cities elsewhere, mostly due to the Goldlilocks climate and natural beauty that abounds here.
As for my own personal recession? I work for a community college and although my job is secure, there isn’t enough money in the State’s budget to accommodate the rapid rise in enrollments we experienced this year. So rather than absorbing the unemployed and retraining them for new jobs in the upcoming “green” economy, we had to turn them away. With my house and car paid for, my credit card debt less than ten percent of my net wages, wages which for an older, single woman with no children are well more than I need to survive, I cannot complain. I wish I had more in my savings account, but I’d rather be debt free first, so most of my paycheck goes to paying down my debt. I must admit that I’m not stimulating the economy much these past few months, nor do I plan to until I am debt free and can pay cash for everything.
Having survived several recessions since I first entered the workforce in 1969, this one scares me the most. I think it’s because I’m older, and the time and flexibility it takes to “bounce back” from a financial setback just doesn’t exist for me anymore.