Foreclosure Quilt : Riverside, CA

I finished another foreclosure quilt last month and am finally sharing it with you! I have to say things have been quite busy for me the past month but it's all been good. I have numerous projects under way in the studio that I'll share soon enough. But I've also been busy in the garden. I'm trying to grow most of our own food this year, which ties into my concerns about global farming and the land grab. But back to the foreclosures ... Riverside, CA.

Riverside Foreclosure Quilt, 2012. 34" x 46"
Tea stained voile, cotton, linen, yarn and embroidery thread.

Southern California has been hit as hard as other areas in the US. As many of you know, SoCal is a very large swath of housing that just seems to go on and on. Zooming in on a particular area was quite a challenge.

Riverside Foreclosure Quilt detail, 2012. 34" x 46"
Tea stained voile, cotton, linen, yarn and embroidery thread.

I chose Riverside because it seemed there was no neighborhood in the city that was immune to foreclosures. I wish I could wander around the city to appreciate it more. One thing that was apparent is a lot of these homes that were foreclosed on in the past couple of years have been fixed up and flipped. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad? On the one hand, it's great that they are being spruced up and helping improve the neighborhood. But, who is behind the fixing up and flipping? A reputable company or someone out to make some quick money?

Riverside Foreclosure Quilt detail, 2012. 34" x 46"
Tea stained voile, cotton, linen, yarn and embroidery thread.

I heard an story today on NPR about companies that are buying up the foreclosures, fixing them up and renting them out. It works if it's a small business who is managing a few properties. But are companies biting off more than they can chew? It sounds like even renters need to do their due diligence before the sign a contract these days. Here we go ... into the next phase of the messy 'clean up'. Who knows where this will lead?


Peppermint Pinwheels said...

Gorgeous work. I heard that story this morning as well and it made me feel a little sick. I realize that living next to a foreclosed home is bad, but is it really better to have it owned by "investors," rather than neighbors?

lisa s said...

i love those little bits on the side that stick out !

and your garden looks amazing.
can i come see it someday ??

Kristin L said...

I thought about your work when I heard that story. I think I prefer the rental option to the flipping option. When it comes time for our family to buy a house, it would be nice if there were something affordable and we could customize as desired, rather than pay top dollar for something generic tailored to someone else's profit. We've been renting because the homeowners of our current house can't sell it for what they paid, and we're looking at the same type of situation in another state across the US. While it doesn't help us much (rents remain high), it does help the homeowners because they can keep up with their mortgages rather than sell at a loss.

Lari Washburn said...

And I am wondering about all those displaced people. All the dreams and hopes, all the hard work to buy a house. Where are they now? How do they live? I see a bit more layers and detail in this one, and like it.

Katrina said...

i love seeing the details of the quilt. all that gorgeous handwork! and cheers to you for your garden and gardening efforts. you've read barbara kingsolver's book animal, vegetable, miracle? inspiring attempt to eat close to home. xoxo.

kathrynclark said...

Thanks for all of your comments. So many unanswered questions about what's happening next with foreclosures. I see so many directions to call attention to. And yes, more details on this piece, something about the absurdity of it all made me want to go in and just sew like crazy.

Letterpress said...

I live in Riverside, and in my neighborhood are several foreclosed homes. One is foreclosed because he got a job back East and couldn't sell his house, so the family abandoned it. It's still not sold. Another house just sold, but it was a bank repo from an investor that lived in Orange County and didn't make the payments. Another house is where the fireman was murdered one night by his girlfriend's jealous ex-boyfriend, leaving a teenage daughter behind. So, while some of your commenters portray us all here in Riverside as poor victims of evil banks, really, a lot of the stories are individual as to why the house went into foreclosure. I asked my realtor friend (I've been haunting your blog and this question was prompted by a post of yours) where there was a complete block of foreclosed homes. He said he hadn't been examining the records like you have, but that he wasn't really aware of a complete block. He was featured some time ago on Oprah--he owned a real estate company at the height of the recession, and was contacted by first one bank, then another, to go into abandoned houses, clean them up (called "trashing out") and get them ready for resale. He sold his real estate business and now does this full time, while also managing contracts to maintain the front yards of homes (a requirement around here). He's frustrated because there are still so many homes on the books that the banks aren't releasing for sale, which might prompt another quilt from you.

I'd just ask you to please be careful of characterizations in the general sense about the community we live in. The income range in Riverside ranges from the very poor to the quite wealthy--and while we were hard hit in the latest recession/home loan debacle, I don't see our town as falling to ruin over loads and loads of foreclosed homes, deadbeat owners, and that cliche of tumbleweeds blowing across what might some imagine to be our abandoned neighborhoods, which are in reality filled with green lawns, trees and vibrant community ties.
You are welcome any time for a visit--we are only a few hours away. I grew up in the Bay Area, and while the climate there is more temperate, you might imagine our city to be sort of like the swath of the East Bay from Pleasanton up to the Mount Diablo area, but with cheaper home prices since we live an hour from the major cities of LA and Orange County, rather than just 35 to 40 minutes. There's no place like the Bay Area (we moved from there to take a job at the University of California-Riverside)--it's sort of a Shangri-la in many ways--but I've been pretty happy here in Riverside (although NOT in August, when it's too hot for me!).

Good luck with the gardening--mine is coming along, too!

kathrynclark said...

Hi Letterpress, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments about my quilts. I don’t see Riverside as a bad place, in fact, just the opposite, it’s a beautiful community. But my point is foreclosures are happening everywhere, right underneath our noses in neighborhoods that are vibrant and thriving. These quilts point out what isn’t so obvious that even the most beautiful of cities aren’t immune. If you’ll read all of my writings, I mention a myriad number or reasons as to why foreclosures have happened. Detroit is an example where complete blocks of homes have been foreclosed. The reason there is obvious, there’s no work for anyone, so people left. But there is one fact you can’t ignore, foreclosures are happening at an alarming rate in every community across the country. This shouldn’t be the norm, but it is. And now that we have this fact, people are trying to find ways to cope with their situation and move on. Some are great solutions, some not much. We’re all figuring this out as we go along, and my hope is we find a way to stop these from happening at such a high rate. Hats off to your friend, we need people like him to turn these properties around. The NPR article was just one of the many solutions people are trying to revive these homes.

Lari Washburn said...

Now see...that's why your art is meaningful...it stimulates ideas and discussions...brava to you and Letterpress!

Unknown said...

Hi, Kathryn,

I live in Riverside, CA, and last year my husband, our four children and I lost our home to foreclosure. We are a family with a steady upper middle-class income who had incredible credit and never missed a bill payment. However, with the accelerated cost of living here and pay cuts from massive So-Cal economic recession, we simply could no longer make our bills. We literally had to choose to either put shoes on our children's feet and food in their bellies or pay our mortgage.

Neighborhoods of the rich and the poor in Riverside have all been touched by foreclosure. All neighborhoods in Riverside are indeed littered with foreclosures.

It's like when you get a new car that you never really noticed very many people driving. But when you purchase one, all of the sudden you take notice of all of the same exact car out on the road. Since I've "survived" a foreclosure, I can spot them from a mile away. And take it from me, for obviously many reasons, Riverside has been hard hit.

I say all this to say thank you for your art and concern for the national foreclosure situation. Your pieces are heartbreaking yet deeply touching at the same time.

Unknown said...

I also meant to ask, what neighborhood in Riverside did you represent on this piece? Just curious.

Thank you again.

kathrynclark said...

It is so touching to me to hear your personal story of foreclosure. It's so sad to hear this crisis is still continuing with no sign of letting up. Thank you for your supportive comments about the series. It has been a huge wake up call for me when I began research and my heart aches when I realize not many understand how severe things have become. Hence, the series. The neighborhood is just south of 91 in the Victoria neighborhood. I would love to know the story of this neighborhood. Thank you again for your kind words.


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