The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a dramatic new report this week, predicting the mortgage foreclosure crisis will cause big economic losses in cities around the country.

The report, “The Mortgage Crisis: Economic and Fiscal Implications for Metro Areas,” was unveiled at a meeting of mayors, mortgage industry representatives and community organizations in Detroit.

“The foreclosure crisis is no longer just about mortgages; entire neighborhoods are being negatively affected on several levels,” Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told the gathering. “This issue is now the number one economic challenge of many major American cities.”

The report predicts that lost economic growth will reach $166 billion, over half a million fewer jobs will be created next year and billions will be lost in tax revenues.

Among other findings: at least 1.4 million more foreclosures can be expected next year, overall economic growth will be a percentage point less because of the crisis and the nation’s homeowners will lose $1.2 trillion in home equity.

The report calls for more education and counseling of borrowers, reform of the Federal Housing Administration, and support for laws to end predatory lending and prevent loan abuses in the future.

But as the 2008 elections approach, a more far-reaching agenda is needed to revitalize cities and rural areas. Federal, state, county and city governments all have a role. Among needed components:

• truly affordable housing for low- and moderate-income buyers and renters;

• many new jobs with wages and benefits to support a family;

• outreach, education and comprehensive services to bring into the workforce unemployed and discouraged workers and people with barriers to employment;

• public works projects to rebuild crucial infrastructure including schools, public transit, roads and bridges.

• health care reform bringing quality, affordable care to all U.S. residents.

All this and much more could be funded by shifting hundreds of billions from war-making in Iraq and around the globe.

Such an agenda would begin to redress the devastation corporate profit-gouging has caused for our cities and for working-class people throughout the country, with specially dire consequences for the racially oppressed, women and youth.

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