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DC Mayor takes credit for Boomtown economy

29 Jan
Mayor Gray seems to think he helped make DC richer, as new agencies like TSA and DHS and expanding older agencies, imported childless singles and couples into DC, people who often make 6 figure salaries while never using public schools, jails, libraries, etc.

Dear Friend –

Earlier today I was pleased to announce that the District ended Fiscal Year 2012 with a healthy budget surplus of $417 million. This news is compelling evidence that the District’s finances are among the strongest of any jurisdiction in the nation. The District’s increasingly strong financial outlook, coupled with impressive job growth and a falling unemployment rate, is affirmation that our economic development strategies are working. With 55 construction cranes dotting our skyline, I can truly say that the amount of development in the District right now is unprecedented.

As we start the new year, I also wanted to take a moment to share with you the results of my administration at the end of 2012, my second year in office. As you will note, we’ve made tremendous progress in a short amount of time. On our watch:

* The District’s economy is booming, with more than 28,000 private sector jobs created over the past two years and the unemployment rate falling by nearly three percentage points;

* The District has hit a 50-year low in homicides – with the numbers dropping dramatically each of the last two years and nearly twenty times faster than the national average;

* The District is growing rapidly – adding more than 1,100 people a month – and is now more populous than both Vermont and Wyoming. The District has not had this many residents since the 1970s;

* Public education enrollment is now at nearly 81,000 students and is growing at a rate not seen in 45 years as families return to the city and to public education; and

* Fiscal responsibility has been restored – the District now spends only what it takes in and the practice of raiding the District’s reserves to balance the budget has been eliminated. In addition, the city’s long-term fiscal health has again been protected by growing our critical rainy-day fund back to $1.5 billion.

I’ve attached a copy of my administration’s Report on Year Two and you can also read it online>

The District’s increasing economic strength is strong evidence that our city has fully emerged from the country’s worst economic crisis in our lifetime more vibrant and stronger than before. It also means we have an opportunity to make several key strategic investments in affordable housing, our workforce, and public safety for which previously we did not have the necessary funds. I invite you to join me at my 2013 State of the District Address next Tuesday, February 5th at 7:00 PM at the Historic Sixth and I Synagogue where I will outline my plan to make these critical investments.

Thank you for partnering with me and my administration to keep the District moving forward and growing in a prosperity in which all can share.

Executive Office of the Mayor

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Save the date!
Mayor Gray’s 2013 State of the District Address is Tuesday, February 5th at 7:00 pm at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.
Attend in person, watch on DCN>, or follow on Twitter via @mayorvincegray>.
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Life is good in the Imperial City

4 Dec
Of course, if you go down Richmond Highway or out Route 66 to an area with no subway, you can find townhome communities where 6 foreclosures go on the market every week for 40% of their 2006 price.  Usually with immigrant construction workers being evicted from homes they bought with the previous round of government manipulated loans.

But in the upper NW, Arlington, Fairfax, and Montgomery County zip codes full of lobbyists, national media, lawyers and government officials:

Home prices continue to fall; D.C. bucks trend

The nation’s home prices fell slightly in September, according to data released Tuesday, another reminder that the housing market continues to tread water more than five years after it began to melt down.
The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home-price index, which covers 20 major metropolitan regions, found that prices decreased 0.6 percent in September from the prior month after posting small gains over the summer and spring, and 3.6 percent from the same month a year ago. All but two of the cities saw an annual decline.
Real estate trends over the past 10 years in the D.C. metropolitan area.

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Real estate trends over the past 10 years in the D.C. metropolitan area.
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Washington, however, bucked the trend, recording a 1 percent increase in housing prices over the previous year. Analysts attributed the uptick — second only to that in Detroit — to the relative strength of the Washington-area economy.
The steepest decline was in Atlanta, with a 5.9 percent drop during September and nearly a 10 percent fall from the previous year.
“When you look at where we are, we’ve really made no progress. We’re back to where we were when the debt crisis happened,” said Mike Larson, real estate analyst at Weiss Research. “You can call it a malaise; you can call it a hangover; you can call it whatever you want. But the reality is, housing is still sort of the albatross.”
The latest data comes amid a flurry of numbers in recent weeks that paint a mixed picture about the state of the housing market.
On one hand, the number of building permits issued last month increased nearly 11 percent, and construction of new multi-family homes also picked up. Existing-home sales have seen a recent increase. Fewer homeowners have been falling behind on their mortgages. And consumer confidence saw a recent bump.
On the other hand, millions of foreclosures remain in the pipeline, clogging court systems and local real estate markets across the country. Persistent high unemployment has placed continued strain on homeowners struggling to make their payments, while stricter lending standards have prevented would-be home buyers from taking advantage of record-low interest rates.
“We’re not falling off a cliff anymore, but neither are we seeing the typical recovery,” Larson said. “That’s the environment we’re going to be in for a long time. We’re slowly working off the excess of a 15-year real estate binge in this country.”
Many analysts say that a long slog lies ahead and that home prices probably will not hit bottom until 2012 at the earliest. That viewpoint was bolstered by a recent report from the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group, which said that the foreclosure crisis has yet to reach its halfway point and that “there are no signs that the flood of home losses in America will recede anytime soon.”
Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, said he expects the pace of home price declines to accelerate into 2012 before stabilizing, as long as the debt crisis in Europe or some other economic calamity doesn’t spark a global recession. He added that the nation’s political deadlock could prolong the housing markets woes even longer.
“We do not think we’re going to make meaningful progress clearing out the shadow inventory until after the presidential election,” said Vitner, adding that getting the foreclosure backlog cleared will require a government initiative unlikely to come in an election year. “There’s going to have to be some sort of program that rallies people to action, some sort of incentive that brings these foreclosures to the market.”
The federal government has taken a series of steps to help troubled borrowers and boost the mortgage markets, such as measures aimed at keeping interest rates low and assisting some homeowners who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance. Although those initiatives have helped certain homeowners, they have yet to provide a big enough boost to return the country’s housing market to health.
Washington’s real estate market, however, has shown more signs of life. That’s partly because Washington never experienced the massive bubbles that came back to haunt cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix, and partly because of the federal government’s resilience in the face of recession.
“The economy in D.C. is stronger than in the rest of the country,” Vitner said. “Even though there’s a lot of pressure to cut the federal budget, and there have been restraints in federal spending, there haven’t been a lot of layoffs in government. That’s taken away a lot of the downside that exists in other housing markets.”