Giving Back to Our Community

December 30, 2008

I want to take this opportunity – on behalf of Channel 9 – to wish everyone a happy New Year. After everything that has happened in 2008 we want everyone to know that our efforts to connect people to resources and provide local context to the financial crisis will continue into 2009.

It has been incredible – over the last six months – to see the impact of this work on our community. When we originally set out to work on the mortgage crisis none of us at the station were quite sure how the project was going to turn out. What I have found is that by putting the community first that we’ve been able to really make a difference.

In this spirit we created the following video, which you can also find on our air. This spot is emblematic of how the staff here at KETC feels about this project.

Context: How is St. Louis dealing with the mortgage crisis?

December 17, 2008

Local NPR affiliate KWMU interviewed University of Missouri – St. Louis professor Todd Swanstrom this morning. Dr. Swanstrom is working with a research group that is studying the problem is six metropolitan areas including St. Louis and Cleveland. In this report Dr. Swanstrom draws comparisons between those two cities and outlines key differences regarding the ways that each area is responding to the crisis. You can listen to the report by clicking here.

You can also view a presentation that Dr. Swanstrom gave at a conference by clicking here.

60 Minutes Feature: Providing Context

December 17, 2008

Linda Ingram – a HUD-certified housing counselor in the St. Louis region – responds to the 60 Minutes feature below:

We first heard about the next wave of foreclosures when an attorney from the Center for Responsible Lending spoke to the [St. Louis Foreclosure Prevention] Task Force.  Alt-A mortgages include the option ARM where homeowners can choose the payment to make.  These are such dangerous loans because the homeowner does not even have to pay the full interest which results in negative amortization. Those buying or refinancing are now faced with skyrocketting adjustments. Loans made in 2004 and 2005 are going to reset in 2009.  Now, homeowners cannot count on increased equity to bail them out. George McCarthy, a housing economist at New Yorks, Ford Foundation likens the Option Arm to a “neutron bomb”.  He says “It’s going to kill all the people but leave the houses standing”.  As with other mortgage difficulties we would recommend that the homeowners call a HUD certified housing counseling agency that provides help at no cost to the homeowner

If you live in the St. Louis region and are having troubles making your mortgage payment (or foresee troubles in the future) do not hestiate to contact Linda Ingram. She works for an organization called Beyond Housing and can be contacted by e-mailing or by calling 314-533-0600.

60 Minutes Feature: The Mortgage Meltdown

December 16, 2008

This 60 Minutes feature is a testament to the fact that the mortgage crisis is not over. When these Alt-A and ARM products readjust thousands of people will find themselves in foreclosure. As we’ve seen over the last six months foreclosures impact individuals, communities, and the entire economy.  Therefore, it is of critical importance that we make sure that these individuals are able to get connected to resources so that they can either save their homes or experience – what Linda Ingram describes as – “a soft landing.”

So, if you did get an ARM or an Alt-A loan, or you know that tough times are ahead, do not wait to get help. Call a local HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency. If you’re in the St. Louis region call the United Way’s 2-1-1 referral service to get a list of housing counseling agencies in your are 1-800-427-4626.

Below is the 60 Minutes segment from the weekend.

Housing Counselors

December 11, 2008

If you or someone you know is at risk of foreclosure – or is about to miss a house payment – there is help available. If you’re in the St. Louis region you can call the United Way’s 2-1-1 referral service to get connected to a Housing Counselor who may be able to help. For a referral call 1-800-427-4626 or visit their website at

Below is a description of what a Housing Counselor is and what they do.

News from the St. Louis Beacon – Beaconomics 101

December 11, 2008

Beacon-omics 101: What are mortgage-backed securities?
By Mary Delach Leonard, Beacon staff

To construct a global financial meltdown, start with some building blocks called “mortgage-backed securities.”
What are they?

In a nutshell: A borrower goes to a lender to arrange financing to buy a house. The lender gives the borrower the money but then sells the loan – or portions of it – to a third-party financial company. That company further divvies up the loan among investors who will share the profits from the loan repayment but also the risk should the homeowner default.

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Chris Krehmeyer: America Has the Chance to Make a Real Difference

December 8, 2008

Below is a letter-to-the-editor written by Chris Krehmeyer – CEO of Beyond Housing – published in the December 4 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the letter Krehmeyer provides context to the current economic crisis by emphasizing that individuals and families are in need of government support, which has yet to materialize.

Another day, another headline about the economic need to save a company that is “too big to fail.” The government — taxpayers — now might buy credit card loans, student loans and who knows what else. The intent, as explained, is to foster more economic activity.I am not an economist, but it strikes me that the genesis of our global financial meltdown with $31 trillion lost worldwide was started by families losing their homes to foreclosure. I am dumbfounded that with all the billions of dollars targeted to “fix” the global problem, stabilize financial markets, unfreeze credits markets, blah, blah, blah, that not one dollar has been directed to actually stop a foreclosure. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. proposed a plan to do so, but it appears the Treasury Department did not like it and indicated that it only wanted to make “investments” that would spur economic activity.


I would rather see my tax dollars go toward keeping a family in its home, children in their schools, keeping property values up and the keeping local tax base strong.


This idea of getting Main Street help is not a talking point; it is about real people and their lives. Regardless of the reason it may have occurred, I cannot imagine a more stressful, difficult thing to happen in one’s life than to lose your home. Programs are in place today in St. Louis and all across the country to work with families and their lenders in an effort to stop foreclosures. We need more resources to do this work, more resources to allow families to live up to their financial obligations, more resources to keep financial institutions strong, more resources to keep neighborhoods intact and more resources to make the statement that we truly care about our neighbors.


These times are challenging but we have a real opportunity to make a sound fiscal decision and an incredible difference in the lives of families in crisis. Let’s not waste the chance.


Chris Krehmeyer | St. Louis

President/CEO, Beyond Housing


NPR: Planet Money

December 4, 2008

NPR’s “Planet Money” is a radio program designed to help people make sense of the of the rapidly changing global economy. Some of the individuals involved in creating Planet Money also work with the NPR program “This American Life”.

You can check out there podcasts and blog by clicking here.

In their latest feature Planet Money delves into jobs and the economy. As the mortgage crisis has rippled out one of its major impacts has been widespread job loss. Click here to listen to the show.

A Community-Wide Effort

December 4, 2008

As a way to illustrate the community-wide effort that has taken place with Facing the Mortgage Crisis we have created the following 3-minute video. We have been working with 26 community partners in order to connect people to resources and raise awareness of the impact of the mortgage crisis on the St. Louis region. At the end of the day this effort is not about us or our partners; it’s about strengthening the St. Louis community.

Take a look at the video below.

News From the St. Louis Beacon – Effect of Fed’s buying $600 billion in mortgages unclear, say local housing experts

December 1, 2008

By Mary Delach Leonard, St. Louis Beacon staff    

The real effect of Tuesday’s announcement that the Federal Reserve would buy up to $600 billion in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities is not yet clear for troubled homeowners facing foreclosure, say two local nonprofit housing counselors.

“It could be a breakthrough for homeowners. Right now, loans residing in investor-owned securities are very difficult to modify; servicers are hamstrung by the regulations governing each bundle. If the Fed buys entire trunks of loans, it would have the power to change these stipulations, and that would finally allow for individual modifications,” said Karen Wallensak of Catholic Charities.

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