Well, here is some depressing news! The hot new housing sector in the US isn't houses at all: it's shacks. That's because the kind of people who used to be your next-door neighbor if you lived in a sort of marginal neighborhood in a largeish city are now squatters living under bridges in Fresno. Hell, maybe you're one of them.

A flourishing shantytown population does not exactly answer the question of where all the foreclosed mortgagees from Florida and Nevada have ended up, but here's a guess. Our New Depression has kicked millions of people a few rungs down the socioeconomic ladder, which creates further crowding and instability the farther down you go. Thus, the solvent mortgage-holders become frightened single-income or unemployed mortgage-holders borrowing against their home equity lines for grocery money; the overleveraged mortgage-holders become credit-challenged renters; and the people who barely made rent every month end up in tents. Circle of life, etc. Fortunately, the first time home-buyer's credit should clear up this whole problem.

Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns [New York Times]


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