polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Scenes from Surrendered Homes

by Alex Schafran

Late last year I posted a handful of Doug Smith's photographs from foreclosed homes in California's Central Valley. A full-length essay is now featured on Places: Design Observer, one of Polis's favorite online magazines. Below is an excerpt. Comments are always welcome.

"... if the crisis is no longer as visible, it's still not over, and the pain is not gone. At 12.3 percent, California's unemployment rate is the second highest in the nation, and things are even worse in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. In the region's three main counties — San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced — the unemployment rate is more than 18 percent. The rate is higher yet for the young, the old, people of color, the working class. Long-time homeowners fortunate enough to have stable jobs are trapped in houses worth a third to half of what they were five years ago, unable to move or retire. Maintenance on urban infrastructure like roads and streetlights has been quietly postponed by cities hemorrhaging property tax income. Credit profiles are ruined. Families are doubled up with relatives. In classic suburban style, the problem has not gone away; it has merely gone inside."

Credits: Photos by Doug Smith, 2010.

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