The film, "99 Homes" has been out for awhile. My guess is that it's audience dwindles when people find out that the subject matter is the recent real estate bust that accompanied the economic turn down of 2008. Like the Academy Award winning "The Big Short," this is a film about the winners and losers. But, with a twist. A hard working single parent living with his son and his mother falls on hard times when construction work get cuts back and ultimately gets foreclosed upon. The twist comes when he ends up going to work for the very real estate agent that gives him the bad news.
What follows is a subtle portray and even more subtle discussion of the value conflict in this culture over property, the American Dream of owning a home, and ultimately playing the game fairly. Our hero makes some bad decisions in his haste to regain his home. In fact the definition of the difference between a house and a home lies in the balance.
Similarly, a situation in my local community got me thinking of "99 Homes." Some neighbors want to prevent the destruction of a house originally built in 1902. Seems as if the property was sold by the last remaining relatives of the man that built the house back then to a developer who wants to replace it with some condos. Some more condos... Portland is suddenly awash in condos.
The trade off between the stately but archaic old house and the condos aesthetic is clearly what's at stake here. The neighborhood sees the history and look of the immediate environment as clearly more important than a shiny new building. The homeowner would rather just keep his memories of the house and sell the property. In fact, in a local news broadcast, he said,"This house has no economic value."
I tend to side with the neighborhood. Sometimes it's not all about economic value; it's about the look, feel and history of the place. I think we all know what's going to happen here. It's the great American value conflict. Profit v. human life.