In conjunction with our annual photo issue, we are publishing photo essays of long term, in-progress, personal work by contributing FADER photographers about the people and changing landscape of America. More photos from FADER staffer John Francis Peters’ “Just a Dream: America's Foreclosed Homes,” along with his personal statement about the project are after the jump.
Since the recent economic collapse first began, the number of Americans who have lost their homes to foreclosure has escalated at an alarming rate, reaching nearly 1.5 million homes nationwide by summer 2009. Home foreclosure in the United States has been a driving force behind the international economic downturn, the manipulation of new homeowners through irresponsible, profit-driven mortgage lending practices combining with growing unemployment to create a desperate situation for many Americans.
The fallout from the housing market decline goes beyond the obvious. The rapid dissolve of communities’ populations and economic value, newly homeless families and rootless children, shifting pressures on schools and hospitals in growing and shrinking neighborhoods are all parts of an evolving societal shift, the effects of which may not be fully known for generations.
This series of photographs comes directly from visiting numerous foreclosed homes where I live in upstate New York. While spending time in these homes, wandering through oddly colored rooms, taking in the dull smells of animal dander and black mold, something else began to affect my senses. It can only be described in what I felt standing in the rooms: distress, sadness and loss. I feel something else is still in these homes and these photos hint at its existence by way of a shattered mirror, a deflated baby shower balloon, a decapitated statuette of Mary, a small tacked up American flag with one dangling thread.
I hope these images give a voice to those fleeting details that remain and keep record of the fact that each house was once occupied by people surviving as best they could, the essence of which we may identify within our own precious homes.