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Did liar home loans also attract criminal element to Manteca?

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POSTED May 8, 2009 1:40 a.m.
Has Manteca’s crime rate gone down because some of the “right” people are losing their homes?

It is a theory that has merit according to peace officers such as Manteca Police Captain John Orcutt.

Orcutt astutely points out that some of the people who bought homes in Manteca using questionable loans were able to catapult from less desirable – and more depressed neighborhoods in the Bay Area – and, move into much nicer homes in Manteca that they couldn’t afford.

The same thing happened in Stockton which is also experiencing a drop in various crime rates as foreclosures pile up and new families purchase the homes.

All it takes is a half dozen or so of the wrong households and you can trigger an uptick in the crime rates. It explains, in part, how some of the more brutal gang crimes in the past three years took place in newer neighborhoods where there are McMansions such as south of Joshua Cowell School.
Orcutt has noted those buying homes now tend to be purchasers with strong valley roots who are changing the face of neighborhoods.

None of this is intended to whip up the old BAT – Bay Area Transplant – hysteria. Ocrutt and others are quick to point out that they are by far more solid people who move to Manteca from the Bay Area. The problem is when institutions make it extremely easy for people who have minimal means and virtually no sense of responsibility to “move up.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that an “economic freebie” brought problems to Manteca.

Years ago, the former Pennebaker apartment complex on Pestana Avenue was having a difficult time filling up the new complex. So the owners decided to offer a “99 moves you in” with no deposit and last month’s payment needed.

The complex literally attracted dozens upon dozens of renters from the South Bay Area many of whom had an extremely spotty work history. It was only a matter of months before the complex started going downhill and crime rates were pumped up. It got so bad at one point that the department was averaging two to three calls a day at the complex earning it the distinction of being dubbed “Manteca’s police substation” by patrol officers.

The outlandish anti-social way that some people left homes – hammering holes in walls, removing cabinets, and leaving tons of trash behind – may be explained to a degree by such a theory tying a drop in crime to the “right” people being foreclosed upon.

Regardless of how you slice it, though, the crime rate is going down during bad economic times. That is not the normal correlation.

Granted, the vast majority of the folks caught up in the foreclosure mess are decent law-abiding citizens. All it would take is for a handful of people who literally had no other way to escape questionable areas of the Bay Area except through the assistance of liar loans and/or outrageously high prices paid for borderline dilapidated Bay Area homes in “bad neighborhoods” to make the move possible.

It underscores what happens to society as a whole when you build prosperity on a foundation that is as shaky as a house of cards.

It also goes hand-in-hand with what police have said for years – too often people move out of crime areas like Oakland where they are worried about their kids being associated with the bad element only to relax when they move to Manteca and fail to see the same problems here.

Yes, Manteca has plenty of its own home-grown criminal elements. And you are going to always have criminals move here – or to any other town for that matter.

Regardless of how much merit you believe such a theory has, the foreclosure meltdown has had positive impacts on Manteca.

You can see it in the homes being bought by people who rent already in the community and have their own chance to buy a piece of the American Dream at an affordable price. They are fixing up and improving homes that were once owned by investors who put nothing into them choosing only to rent them for awhile and then flip them for money as well as homes where buyers were pushed to the limit the day they moved in and were unable to maintain the home.

Manteca will be the better for having buyers committed to the community and putting down roots as hard-working citizens whether they are long-time valley residents or are moving here from the Bay Area.

Solid value – in assets as well as quality of life – comes in a housing market driven by real value and not speculation.
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