The Human Toll of America’s New Ghost Towns

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Paul Martin


When pundits discuss homeownership, they often frame the issue in terms of purchases, lending rates, housing starts and other economic data. For the DailyFinance series “Ghost Towns of the Recession,” we took a different tack: rather than rely on the numbers, we looked at some neighborhoods where the dream of owning a home has become a nightmare of foreclosures, underwater mortgages and abandoned houses.
Indeed, real estate agents, builders and banks sell homeownership as a key part of the American dream. This certainly fits into the mythos of Las Vegas, heart of the most foreclosed state in the nation and the subject of one of our articles.In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson’s “Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” he follows in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims, from Mormons to mobsters to an endless stream of vacationers in search of a lucky roll of the dice. And Thompson wasn’t the end of the line: A little over 10 years after his book came out, he was followed by a torrent of would-be homeowners seeking low-price real estate in a city that quickly became the fastest-growing area in America.

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