Foreclosing the Dream

Understanding the Housing and Financial Crisis

Foreclosing the Dream describes the foreclosure rates in 236 counties in the 35 largest metropolitan areas. It relates foreclosure rates to housing and income characteristics in each of the 50 states.

These comparisons are necessary to understanding the housing and financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. They have not been presented and analyzed anywhere else.

Foreclosing the Dream coverThat America entered a profound housing crisis in 2008 is well known. The wave of foreclosures that began to sweep the nation has had radical economic effects. But the force, ramifications, and implications for communities across America have never been spelled out as clearly and thoroughly as they are in Foreclosing the Dream.

As he did in Tomorrow's Cities, Tomorrow's Suburbs, William H. Lucy has taken a clear-eyed and meticulous look at the latest data and found lessons that the mainstream discussion has overlooked-particularly with regard to the spatial and demographic implications of the housing crisis. The housing market did not collapse uniformly, and the pain has not been felt equally in all age groups.

Planners, public officials, activists, students, and others will benefit from Lucy's analysis of the real shape of the crisis, for what happens next will reflect these inequities. Lucy pulls no punches in this taut, readable assessment of what the crisis will mean for the shapes of our exurbs, older suburbs, and central cities. No responsible planner or housing professional can afford to miss this book.

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Meet the Author

William H LucyWilliam H. Lucy is the Lawrence Lewis, Jr. Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Close to Power: Setting Priorities with Elected Officials and (with David L. Phillips) Tomorrow's Cities, Tomorrow's Suburbs.

From the Author

Foreclosing the Dream is the only book that explains why the housing and financial crisis occurred, other than describing financial manipulations that triggered the meltdown. National housing policies, presidential politics, household demographic changes, altered residential location preferences, and inter-local development competition were contributing causes. Understanding these multiple causes is the necessary foundation for designing public policies and plans that can revive housing markets, strengthen the national economy, and coordinate national, regional, and local policies to combat negative effects of climate change.


"Experience is now showing that the foreclosure challenge is varied and nuanced — ranging from predatory loans to option ARMs (often accompanied by limited documentation and optimistic underwriting) to the more current situation of job losses, income reductions, and falling values. This book recognizes the breadth of that challenge and presents many useful solutions for meeting it."

—Conrad Egan
Immediate Past President, National Housing Conference

"Housing foreclosures are the tip of the iceberg in William Lucy's tale of a brave new metropolitan future. Historic changes in housing development, revitalization of the central city, new demographic changes, and global warming all play crucial parts in the coming transformation. Offering a sweeping vision, Foreclosing the Dream is a planner's comprehensive guide to future metropolitan development, showing us how to fit together the many changes that might seem unrelated."

—Dowell Myers
Professor of Urban Planning and Demography, University of Southern California