Yesterday, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) and Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Stanislaus) sent another letter to President Obama urging him to visit the Central Valley so he can see firsthand the devastating effects of the housing and economic crises. Congressman Cardoza has repeatedly called on the President to tour the Valley, and sent a letter last February urging him to make a stop in the region during a planned trip to California. The Central Valley has been ground-zero for the housing crisis, and unemployment has risen above 20% in some communities. Modesto, Stockton and Merced, which Congressman Cardoza represents, all rank in the top 10 for highest foreclosure rates in the country, and three out of five homeowners are "under water," owing more on their home loans than their houses are worth.
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President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
It is difficult to overstate the deep and intractable economic difficulties in California's Central Valley. A region already in difficulty before the financial crisis due to long-standing water issues was devastated by the collapse in the housing market and more than three years later, many of our constituents have lost hope for their future and faith in their government. Unemployment rates remain double the national average in many communities and foreclosure rates continue to be among the highest in the nation.
The Central Valley is the most productive farmland in the United States; in fact the top five counties in the country for agricultural production are all located in the Valley. However this industry, upon which so much of our local economy depends, was already in crisis before the financial collapse. This was both the result of natural drought and judicial and regulatory overreach that arbitrarily reduced water allocations putting thousands of people out of work. This year, despite being one of the wettest on record in California, inadequate allocations and continued obstruction of needed infrastructure improvements have meant that the water crisis has continued to hobble this important job creating and export intensive industry.
The lack of an effective solution to the water crisis is mirrored in the continued inability to provide relief to homeowners struggling with negative equity on their homes. There has been little indication that we have turned a corner in the Central Valley. Modesto and Stockton, two cities in our districts, rank no. 3 and no. 4 respectively on the list of metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rate. In Washington D.C., a city that has experienced no crisis, statistics like these are academic and do not convey the true distress experienced by so many families. That is why we would like to take the opportunity one more time, to invite you to see the situation firsthand, to hear the stories and to work with us to find a bipartisan path to recovery.
Jeff Denham Dennis Cardoza
United States Representative United States Representative