Among the struggling Homestead homeowners is 35-year-old firefighter Craig McBean, who purchased a three-bedroom home in 2005 for $250,000. Since then, the home’s value has fallen nearly 40% and his wages have been cut 20%. About two years ago, the monthly payments on his home jumped to $2,400 from the original $1,800, taking a big bite from his $45,000 annual salary. Still, Mr. McBean has held on and continued to make his payments.
But the rising price of gasoline, currently around $3.40 a gallon in the Homestead [Florida] area, has hurt. Mr. McBean said his gasoline costs doubled in recent years and it now costs him $80 to $100 a week to fuel his 1997 Ford F-150 truck. And his expenses are likely to keep rising; energy analysts expect average gas prices to hit a peak somewhere between $3.75 and $4.25 nationally this summer…
With the higher mortgage and gasoline costs, and a one-hour commute to Miami on Florida’s Turnpike, Mr. McBean is considering leaving Homestead, though he hopes to avoid foreclosure. “I would like to move somewhere closer to work,” he said. “The money I could save over three to four years, I could put down on another home.”
His predicament—and the pinch felt acutely in exurban America—is forcing some families to reconsider the total cost of living far away from urban centers, not just the cost of the actual home. “People thought they were getting a bargain when they were paying less” for a house, said Linda Young, research director at the Center for Neighborhood Technology. “What they didn’t realize is that the transportation costs could be even more.”
The Chicago-based nonprofit, which promotes public transportation and energy efficiency, estimates that in Homestead, housing and transportation together consume nearly half of the median $36,000 household income for the area. Dawn Woptaka/WSJ
Just read between the lines here. Rising gas prices – which I think has been the dream and plan of Obama and his energy secretary since day one – have finally hit home for all of us and this Florida man, in particular. This man can’t afford to drive to work anymore – now there’s a need for mass transit and high speed rail. This man is hoping to sell his house and move back into the city – a move to “coerce’ you out of your car and into public transportation by corralling people back into manageable and controllable (by the government) urban areas. Remember those remarkable words from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood?
Obama’s communist dream come true.
The saddest part of Mr. McBean’s story is that he hopes to save sell this house and save enough money over the next few years to buy another. He still has hope and I’m afraid that’s the saddest thing. Obama has his perfect storm of home foreclosures, rising gas prices and falling incomes. That combination takes all hope out of the picture for most Americans.
Why are so many resigned to the fact that $4/gallon will be the new norm for America? Because they have no hope that things will get better than they are now. Because Obama has made no mention of the ridiculous prices. When Bush was president and the prices started climbing, all he needed to do was announce some new drilling permits in America and all of a sudden OPEC dropped the price per barrel.
Mr. McBean still has some of the glimmer of a brighter future. I hope he won’t be disappointed but I fear he will be.