My neighborhood is an old one, a haggard remnant of the Studebaker days, much like the city itself. Things had been looking up, though: many of the houses were bought up and renovated, and sold to younger families getting their start. My block was 80% unoccupied only 5 short years ago, and by last year every house save one at the end of the block was owner occupied. The mayor, meanwhile, bulldozed most of the abandoned and condemned buildings. We planted new trees and surrounded the homes with landscaping and gardens, joined neighborhood watch groups and listservs, and got the city to start plowing our alleys again.
Then the housing market crashed and the credit markets seized up. Suddenly none of the people who were planning to move can sell their house, even here, a thousand miles from the nearest housing bubble hot spot. There are several "for sale" signs nearby that have sat outside for months, and at least one of neighbors gave up trying to sell his house, and had to settle for anything that would help him recoup the cost of keeping it. Thus, for the first time in years, we have renters on our block again. Some jobs dried up, the people on the margins of the neighborhood fell on harder times, and in the blink of an eye we've found ourselves the collective victims of a massive wave of thefts and burglaries.
Sometime last night, my household suffered its own glancing blow as an intruder shattered the garage window and rode off on my bike, the shiny, black Schwinn with collapsing saddlebags I wrote about in June. It was my first bike in 20 years. I got to own it a grand total of 6 months.