Collapsing housing market clouds Nevada caucuses

January 18, 2008
The last time Barbara Wheeler visited her old neighbourhood she counted 11 homes that had been repossessed on the small curving street of Spanish-style villas. Wheeler's was at number 3705. She moved into a rented flat after signing away her home to her mortgage lender, one of thousands in Nevada swept up in the collapse of America's mortgage lending industry.
     The state has the highest per capita rate of home repossessions. More than 5,500 homes were repossessed here last September, the month Wheeler lost her home, deepening an economic crisis in what had once been America's iconic boomtown.
     In neighbourhoods like Wheeler's in northern Las Vegas, the ravages are clearly visible. "Two doors behind us, they moved out overnight and they foreclosed on their house, and then it was house after house after house," she said.
     Homes lie empty or boarded up or have signs out the front offering: "Free move anywhere."
     The collapse of the housing market and higher than average unemployment has put the focus fully on the economy in tomorrow's Democratic caucuses. All three candidates have come up with plans to help people stay in their homes, and re-start the economy.