In the Current Foreclosure Crisis, Echoes of the Past

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IT is now widely believed that the aggressive mortgage lending during the recent real estate boom was unprecedented. In the final counting, that assessment may well be accurate.

But some housing experts whose careers date back to the 1960s say they hear the distinct echo of a government program from 35 years ago in the current mortgage crisis....

There are obvious differences between the government program, which was run by the Federal Housing Administration and known as Section 235, and the aggressive private-sector practices of recent years known as subprime lending. But in both cases the victims were often the borrowers and their neighborhoods, which were left pockmarked by abandoned property that worsened the broader urban ills of drug abuse, high crime and unemployment.

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