Barney Doran, Delray Beach Opinion originally published in the Sun Sentinel
Now that John McCain has proposed that the U.S. government buy up $300 billion in mortgages, write down the outstanding amounts and lower the payments for the homeowners, it is time for the voices of America's 34 million renting households to be heard. Please note this constitutes approximately 135 million people and roughly 65 million potential voters. Americans are regaled daily in the media with the vicissitudes of the homeowners who were "forced" into dwellings by rapacious bankers and mortgage brokers. How about the 7 million rental households with annual incomes under $10,000 who pay over half that income on rent? Haven't heard too much about them in this great national brouhaha, have you? But not only the poor rent in this country. Twenty percent of rental households (6.8 million equating to approximately 27.2 million Americans) make over $60,000 a year.
Back in the heady days of house gambling, don't you think they received calls at dinner time from mortgage brokers offering zero-down, no-income-verification, no-credit-check mortgages? Yes, they did, but they were either reluctant to get entangled, or they realized this was one big casino. In other words, they didn't take the bait, but the fish across the street in foreclosure did and is about to be bailed out by the government. The sober renter, however, is being totally ignored, even though his rent was increased during the housing Vegas days because of "rising property values."
Is it fair that his tax dollars are going to bail out a greedy/stupid neighbor? I don't think America's renters are going to think so. But I do think the politicians representing these renters will ignore this inequity at their peril. These voices will be heard.