Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek

Mortgage Broken: Faces of Foreclosure

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    For the past 62 consecutive months, Nevada has been the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, with the highest rate of foreclosures in the country. Last month, in one zip code in Las Vegas, 89031, one in every 103 homes received a foreclosure notice, according to RealtyTrac, a data seller in Irvine, Calif. It also reported that one in every 16 housing units in Nevada received at least one foreclosure filing. Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden interviewed several residents of Las Vegas and Reno who were going through the process of foreclosure, photographing them, their homes and other foreclosed properties for Bloomberg Businessweek.com. 

    -- Brent Murray

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Sarah-Jane Woodall, a model for fetish photography, said that in 2004-2006, "the boom years," it seemed as though everyone owned multiple houses. "Like I knew this guy who was a janitor at the MGM -- a janitor! He goes around the casino and sweeps up cigarette butts! He had three, four, five houses."

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "I was dating this guy at the time who was a casino host. So he lures in high rolling players. This one guy, who was a high stakes roulette player, I should have known he was an idiot, but he also was a mortgage broker. Long story short: he's a drug dealer and an arms trader, alright? He's a shady character. And now he's a mortgage broker. 'Oh, you guys want to buy a house anytime, don't worry. I approve you for a loan. You know, up to half a million dollars.'"

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "The payments were all between $2,000 and $2,500 a month. So, reasonable, especially when I'm living with him. He had tons of money coming in. But, then we break up and he moves out. So, that was when I first got started in fetish photography. Like, the second time, I started crying. I thought, 'Why am I doing this? I went to college.' Like, 'I'm not paying this damn mortgage anymore. This is ridiculous.'"

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Exacerbating the situation, unemployment in the state also remains the highest in the country, currently at 12.3%, compared with the national average of 8.3% in February.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Krystal Glass, one of the founders of Occupy Las Vegas, had her $700,000 home in a gated community foreclosed upon. "They say that 85% of homes are upside down. In 2003, the American dream was happening and in full force in Las Vegas. The streets were paved with gold. It just imploded. It was fool's gold."

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "I moved here in 2003, my brother and my husband and sister all lived here and were making tons of money, and I started immediately as a mortgage loan officer for a small broker. It just took off. And I made over $50,000 in my first year, and I'd never even made that much money before."

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "Those things are being thrown out there now, and I'm reading it, I just shake my head and i'm ashamed that I didn't pay attention. And I'm never going to let it happen again."

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Las Vegas.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Jimmy and Danielle, two new residents of Las Vegas, lost their home to foreclosure last year.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    One in every 168 houses in Fernley, Nevada, received a foreclosure filing in January, according to RealtyTrac.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Abandoned furniture outside a foreclosed home in Fernley.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Caroline Snow outside her foreclosed home in Las Vegas.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    "The banks caused the bubble," said Ron Beatrix, "because the big guys who are running it want more money. So they cause all that, and then what happens? Well, they get all the houses back. And now they sell them real cheap to investors and stuff. What are you gonna have, you're going to have a hundred thousand homes foreclosed, there are going to be a hundred thousand empty homes. And they're still building! And I'm not talking one house, I'm talking they're building a whole friggin' development."

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    A foreclosed home in Las Vegas.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Erin O'Malley, a real estate agent who lost her home to foreclosure, in front of her new home.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Las Vegas

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Reno is faring slightly better, with one in 306 homes receiving foreclosure notices last month. That is still double the national average.

    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Photograph by Bruce Gilden/Magnum for Bloomberg Businessweek