Each time Ron Taylor steps outside the squat brick townhouse he rents in the Manassas neighborhood of Georgetown South, the house next door is a reminder of how things used to be. It’s his old home, now vacant. The yard, where he once carefully carved a planter from a tree trunk, is overgrown with weeds. Taylor, 68, and his wife lived there for about a decade before it was foreclosed on last year. Georgetown South was envisioned as a tony, southern sister for the District’s famous and affluent Georgetown when it was built in 1964. But that was never in the cards for the neighborhood, and it soon became better known for blight and crime. When the foreclosure crisis came, it was among the area’s hardest hit neighborhoods. At the height of the housing bubble, nearly 60 percent of residents were homeowners. Now, about 60 percent rent.
The Christian housing ministry Habitat for Humanity builds houses using volunteer labor and has helped many low-income families become homeowners. But the recent foreclosure crisis and shortage of rental units have opened my eyes to an even bigger need — helping families to stay in their homes.
Instead of swinging a hammer, I’m meeting with developers, bankers and politicians in an effort to preserve affordable housing for my needy church members and neighbors. It’s a trend that has caught on across the country.
At a roundtable, fifteen Muslims nervously share stories about their financial problems. It is a new concept especially for older immigrants, not used to airing their laundry in public, more so inside a masjid. They are at the Dar al Noor Islamic Center in Manassas, VA located in a county heavily hit by the mortgage crisis. Some skip their turn but then gain the courage to speak up, after seeing others in the same situation.