Finally, Own-to-Rent…and a Count of Green Jobs

March 23rd, 2012 at 9:36 am

First, years after I first heard Dean Baker raise the idea, a major bank has introduced an “own-to-rent” program that would enable homeowners at risk of default on their mortgages to keep living in their homes.

From the WSJ:

Bank of America Corp. is launching a pilot program that will allow homeowners at risk of foreclosure to hand over deeds to their houses and sign leases that will let them rent the houses back from the bank at a market rate.

The pilot will be quite limited, offered to only 1,000 homeowners in Arizona, Nevada, and New York.  That’s smart—it should quickly become clear if homeowners want to take advantage of the offer and how effectively the bank can implement it (Fannie has a similar program but it’s hardly been tapped).

Homeowners facing foreclosure will turn their title over to the bank in exchange for the right to rent their home for three years at market rents.  The bank may sell the home to an investor but that person will have to agree to continue the rental agreement, at least for the three year period.

What’s in it for the homeowner?  They can stay in their home/neighborhood, sustain less damage to their credit rating, and come out from under an unsustainable loan.

What’s in it for the bank?  They own the property without going through the long foreclosure process and they avoid the risk of a foreclosed property sitting out there on the glutted residential home market, losing value and bringing down the value of neighboring homes.

When it comes to chipping away at the housing mess, I’ve been an “all-the-above” advocate re trying different policy ideas.  I’ve liked this idea for years and I’m glad it’s getting a try.


Second, I suspect you’ve been wondering how many green jobs there are out there.  Well, here’s the answer, courtesy of the great Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In 2010, 3.1 million jobs in the United States were associated with the production of green goods and services…Green Goods and Services (GGS) jobs are found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. GGS jobs accounted for 2.4 percent of total employment in 2010. The private sector had 2.3 million GGS jobs and the public sector had 860,300. Manufacturing had 461,800 GGS jobs, the most among any private sector industry.

If you’re the type of person who thinks about such things, I suspect that might be a slightly bigger number than you were imagining.  Some may object to the inclusion of jobs in the nuclear industry, included because it produces energy without releasing greenhouse gases.

Also, the number of jobs producing clean energy in the utility sector is small:

Within this industry, electricity generated from wind had the highest employment with 2,200 jobs, followed by biomass with 1,100 jobs, geothermal with 600 jobs, and solar with 400 jobs.

But keep in mind that there are lots more jobs in say, wind and solar, but they’re in other industries, such as manufacturers making solar panels and wind turbines.  The small numbers in the utilities partially reflect the fact that here in the US we still get only 8% of our energy from renewables (see chart) and well under 1% from wind or solar (also, it’s my impression that this is a high-productivity endeavor; it just doesn’t take that many people to staff a wind or solar farm).

Of course, slap a price on carbon and that percentage will go up a lot.  Just sayin’…

Source: EIA

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2 comments in reply to "Finally, Own-to-Rent…and a Count of Green Jobs"

  1. Peter K. says:

    Also there was the work-sharing initiative in the payroll tax bill. Props to Mr. Baker and his social/work circle.

  2. Tom in MN says:

    Keeping the people in their houses is even more in the interests of the banks as it keeps the home’s value. I’ve heard stories about copper thieves that watch the foreclosure listings and as soon as the house is empty rip all the copper out of it. Now the bank has a home that is worth nothing and the previous owners have nowhere to live. Lose-Lose. The stupidity of the banks has just been amazing. They need to be regulated more just to protect them from themselves.