Home-Building Permit Applications Down in Sept

October 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Applications for home-building permits dropped sharply in September. It's one sign the recession is lingering at the doorstep of the housing industry. Another is the number of homeowners continuing to face foreclosure.

Leslee Ramos bought a three-bedroom townhome in Malibu Bay, Florida for $ 255,000 three years ago. Since then, the value of the home has dropped to just $121,000.

"In the past I've tried thousands of things that they've said. New programs that they're going to help the homebuyers and nothing has worked out," said Ramos.

On top of losing property value, Ramos also lost her job and now her home is in foreclosure. "Right now I'm so far behind that I'm just afraid that the bank is going to foreclose on my property."

Ramos' story is echoed by millions of other Americans worried about losing their homes after losing their jobs.

The White House is trying to take aggressive action to fix both problems.

The Obama administration has unveiled a new plan to help low-income and first-time housing buyers.

State housing agencies will be able to provide new mortgages with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae providing credit lines. Taxpayers will once again back up the initiatives.

"But we should not be fooled into thinking that this will help hundreds of thousands of people very quickly. It's more like tens of thousands, and slowly!" said Peter Morici, Economist with University of Maryland.

A new ABC Washington Post poll shows, for the first time, the number of Americans who approve of the president's handling of the economy has slipped to 50-percent.

And Vice President Biden's view that the stimulus package is working, now seems to reflect the more sober reality U.S. workers are facing.

"It's a depression. It's a depression for millions of Americans, through no fault of their own," said Vice President Biden.

The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning about extending the $8,000 dollar first-time homebuyer tax credit set to expire in November.

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