The Homeownership Index

It’s past time to update this.

First published in July 2007. Read my other writings for the Chicago Sun-Times Real Estate section under category “The Right Place.”

Home ownership post WWII
Home ownership rate in 1945: 45%
Home ownership rate in 1955: 65%
Standard down payment: 20%
Standard mortgage term: 30 years

Home ownership 1994-2005
Home ownership rate in 1994: 64%
Home ownership rate in 2005: 69%
Possible down payment: $0
Standard mortgage term: none, variable

Who gained home ownership 1994-2005
Home ownership rate for blacks 1994: 42%
Home ownership rate for blacks 2005: 49%
Number of new black homeowners 1994-2005: 1.5 million
Home ownership rate for Hispanics 1994: 42%
Home ownership rate for Hispanics 2005: 50%
Number of new Hispanic homeowners 1994-2005: 2.0 million
Home ownership rate for households indicating more than one race 1994: 52%
Home ownership rate for households indicating more than one race 2005: 60%
Number of new homeowners indicating more than one race 1994-2005: 2.0 million

Growth of the subprime mortgage market 1994-2005
Aggregate dollars in subprime mortgages 1994: $35 billion
Aggregate dollars in subprime mortgages in 2005: $625 billion
Percentage of total mortgages that were subprime 1994: less than 5%
Percentage of total mortgages that were subprime 2005: 20%
Annual rate of increase in subprime mortgages 1994-2005: 26%
Subprime loans made by less supervised subsidiaries of banks and thrifts: 30%
Subprime loans made by independent mortgage firms without federal supervision: 50%

Foreclosure and personal economics
Rate of foreclosures in prime mortgage market: below 1%
Rate of foreclosures in subprime mortgage market: 7% (10 times as high as prime)
Predicted increase in foreclosure rates for new subprime loans 2006: up to 20%
Confounding factors leading to foreclosure: Job loss and illness
Number of Americans now without health insurance: 45 million
Percentage of first-time, low-income home buyers who return to renting: 40%
Percent of homeowners spending more than half of disposable income on housing: 45%
Percent renters spending more than half of disposable income on housing: 57%
Adapted from data in Subprime Mortgages: America’s latest boom and bust by Edward M. Gramlich

Audience engagement tools and innovations

P1140336Some audience engagement tools to check out. Could any of them be useful to you?


“Q: How do JOURNALISTS know the stories they report are stories their COMMUNITY finds relevant?
A: They ask them. And they use HEARKEN to manage engagement”

Listening Post and Curious City. What do you wonder about Chicago, the region and its people? Pose your question to Curious City and we’ll track down answers together, with stories online, in a weekly podcast, and on WBEZ 91.5 FM. Follow what we do — and learn how you can help investigate — on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter and Tumblr.

What does it mean to be a member of a public radio station in the United States? What could it mean? How could expanding the definition of membership instill a sense of ownership and identity among listeners, allowing them to feel more connected and invested in public media’s content, work and mission? Follow Melody Kramer on GitHub.

Framed by WDET
An audio-visual experience that integrates PHOTOGRAPHY and AUDIO STORYTELLING to tell the story of ETHNIC AND CULTURAL COMMUNITIES throughout metro Detroit.

Chicago’s weekly event to build, share & learn about civic tech. “Open data  without journalism is public relations.”— Barb Iverson

With Blendle, you read all articles from your favorite newspapers and magazines. Without subscribing. Coming soon to a locality near you.

New developments
Here in Chicago, City Bureau, SmartChicago and Invisible Institute have developed the Task Force Tracker.  
Using an excel sheet and Genius, a team of City Bureau Community Documenters  an annotated, updated and independent hub for public use that will measure the ~200 individual recommendations against existing contracts, policies, potential conflicts and public discourse; such as the Fraternal Order of Police contract, local legislation and media reports.

A couple of large scale initiatives involving remnants of big newsrooms brought together hold lessons for Chicago. And yes, they contribute to the “Could it happen here?” factor.
Poynter details how a non-profit now runs Philadelphia news and here’s an explainer. The Knight Foundation held a discusson last week and you can watch a video of the panel discussion  if you want more details. In Detroit, here’s the story of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative  and how the coop’s members — the Center for Michigan’s Bridge Magazine, Detroit Public Television, Michigan Radio, New Michigan Media, and WDET FM101.9 —all learned to play nicely together. Check out NextChapterDetroit.


Getting started


preston-bradley-hall-holiday-party-for-opengovchi_11346925516_oThank you for hosting a conversation May 10 as part of the Independent Media Circle for the Chicago Community Trust’s On The Table 2016.


  • Sign up at On the Table 2016.
  • Your event description is the headline and a paragraph of what you want to discuss.
  • Invite your guests via email through the OTT 2016 interface.
  • In the form, select “Independent Media” as your partner (this puts you in queue for the special independent media survey questions.)
  • You’re done registering!
  • You can revise your event and add guests up until the day of your conversation.
  • Follow me on Twitter and join a Facebook group of your peers.


I highly recommend reading some reporting from the New Jersey Local News lab about their experience. First get better acquainted with the concept of what a news ecosystem is.  Then  head over to Medium to read Molly de Aguiar (@MollydeAguiar) and Josh Stearns (@jcstearns) six part series Lessons from the Local News Lab.

Reading these pieces will take you about a half an hour and help you focus on your  contribution to Chicago’s independent media ecosystem and your On The Table 2016 conversation.


  • Look over the Host Kit. That will help you understand how to guide your conversation.
  • Sign up for an On The Table training session, if you like.
  • Share names of others you think might want to participate.
  • Read the online description of the On the Table 2016, independent media circle.

DIY websites for journalists

Here’s what my site looked like in 2002. My first site went live in 1997.

Luckily, setting up a website has gotten a lot easier than when I set up my first website. Back in 1997, I had to print a form downloaded from the Web, fill it out and mail it in with a check to retain my domain name. That domain name purchase was made from the agency that became Web giant Network Solutions, which today manages  more than 7 million domain names.

By the early oughts, I was tapping into the sharing power of the Web by connecting with the Tech world, women’s networks, nonprofit community and others through a scrollbar on my site.

After purchasing my domain name, I then had to find a company that could “host” my domain on the Web- basically make it “live” on the Web. For a Web host, I selected  a company called Pair Networks, which ultimately became too expensive for me. The  first recorded image of in the Internet Archive was in August of the year 2000. By then I had learned rudimentary HTML, was a member of the International Webmaster’s Association and was reporting on venture capital and technology.  I had ambitions to set up my own domain registrar for NPOs. Didn’t succeed or I’d be a millionaire now.

Now that I’ve told you all that, forget it.

DIY for journalists
Setting up a site so you can retain an archive of your articles is 1000% simpler today. Although there are many ways to set up a portfolio online with live links, I believe the best approach for a  journalist is to set up an archive just like I have here in my WordPress site. I learned fairly quickly that I am not a Web designer and WP, SquareSpace and others take care of that shortage of talent.

Here’s what you need to know. Buy your domain name from a registrar.  Also know that you are not actually “buying” your domain name. You are “renting” it for a period of time. Mosts registrars give you a discount when you rent for a number of years so that is what I’d recommend if you can afford it. Here’s the list of the largest domain name registrars from WebHosting.infoLargest_ICANN_Registrars

The largest on this list are GoDaddy, Enom, Network Solutions, Tucows and Schlund+Partner. This list says nothing about price or reliability. I have had personal experience with GoDaddy, Network Solutions and Tucows.

These days, the larger domain registrars are also hosts. And many of them offer an easy user interface with WordPress, which is basically what your “design” on the Web will look like – no hand woven bad html design for lucky you! You can have an interface that looks like this site you’re reading on, which I’ve set up on, the commercial imprint of Word Press. Here’s a sampling of what the bare bones designs look like.



The basic designs are free but many folks choose to jazz them up by hiring a great designer to assist. My feeling is that site design for us sole proprietor/journalists is less important because the quality of information is what is important. And with the way  information is read and distributed on the Web, I think less and less about my site as a destination. In fact, many journalists are experimenting with site-less news models these days.

One-stop shops aplenty
It’s easy to find a one-stop shop that provides domain registration, Web Hosting and WordPress interface. But buyer beware. A company like GoDaddy seemingly makes it simple to buy your domain name and put it on the Web. But I ask at what cost. Me, I dislike GoDaddy.  Their early marketing was offensive (it was like Hooters) and they nickel and dime you for every little service you need. As your use and sophistication grows you might find yourself disgusted pretty quickly .

A couple of years ago I moved to MediaTemple. The $250 per year fee plus the cost of my domain name rental seemed like a good deal for me since I “play” on the Web a lot with various domain names and often establish and run sites and social media for clients. I’ve been pretty happy with them and their services. But now that Media Temple has been purchased by GoDaddy, I am preparing to flee if the extra fees get onerous. One option I have been considering is Bluehost, which is often played off against GoDaddy in articles like this from a site called (which by the way offers lots of useful info for those of you getting started.)

The important thing for a journalist to get from one of these services is 1-click set up for WordPress, which MediaTemple, BlueHost and GoDaddy all have.

Added kudos for Bluehost
When I asked  my friend, colleague and digital expert Courtney Hunt who she would recommend for Domain registration and hosting, she said she is leaning toward BlueHost.    “I typically recommend Bluehost (one of 3 recommended specifically by WordPress). I have clients who use GoDaddy (trying hard, but not the best option) and InMotion (seems to be good) as well,” she said.

I hope this is helpful. Courtney and I are discussing doing a joint session for journalists moving to the Web. Let me know what you’d like to learn about at SallyDuros AT and we’ll see what we can do for you.


Chicago Chamber of Commons


Here’s an intriguing idea I’d like you to join me in exploring.

The idea is to create a Chicago Chamber of Commons.

The Chicago Chamber of Commons recognizes, supports and highlights the green shoots of Chicago’s budding Generative Economy.

We see signs of it everywhere but we’ve not been using a framework to understand what we are seeing so we can better support it.

In her book, “Owning our Future,” Marjorie Kelly discusses the Generative Economy.

Continue reading Chicago Chamber of Commons

Your digital brand — journalism ethics

acts of journalism

Committing acts of journalism—  What’s that?

The Web and digital technology have made it possible for anyone to commit an act of journalism.

Today, more people than ever are participating in journalism. People are breaking news on Twitter, covering their communities on Facebook, livestreaming, distributing news via email and writing in-depth blogs on issues of civic and community significance. Some of these people are what we’d consider “traditional” journalists working on new platforms, but many are not. — Josh Stearns, when working at The Free Press. Read the Free Press Report on defining press freedom in the digital age.

That’s why as an independent journalist it’s important that you hard-wire certain attributes into your brand from the beginning.

Among others, these include:

These attributes will become increasingly important if news outlets evolve into a platform for our talent as some of us are predicting.

Continue reading Your digital brand — journalism ethics